Caregiver Tips on Reducing Accidents and Injury in People with Alzheimer's

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • Caregivers need to consistently monitor issues of safety. If you start in the early stages of the disease it will makes adjustments less confusing than if you do it in the late stage of Alzheimer's (stage 6 and 7). Changes are incorporated into new routines and that helps reduce confusion. The aim is to forward think what potential dangers room design and activities have and to maximize safety. We want to reduce mobility as little as possible and promote self-care!

     

    Room Design and Layout

    Making adjustments to room design and thinking about safe movement between rooms, especially the bathroom, is basic to safety. Have familiar objects and personal possessions in their room. Simplifying their room and shared rooms by removing unnecessary objects without depersonalizing them is good. This encourages maximum safe mobility in familiar surroundings and continued interest in looking after their home.

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    Stairs

    When internal stairs become a hazard then you need to think about gates on the bottom and at the top of the stairs. These allow free movement on one floor level but can alert caregivers at night if the person with Alzheimer's gets lost or wanders (more sleep at night for caregivers!).

     

    Door Handles

    Door handles that need to be opened in combination will reduce the chances of a confused person gaining access to unsafe areas such as stairs and external yards and gardens unless supervised. Devices can be purchased that require key pad codes and swipe cards. You want easy access and devices that do not present hazard to caregiver supervision during escape from incidents such as fires.

     

    Plan for Toilet Visits

    One of the most important safety issues are bathroom trips. Easy access in familiar surroundings maximizes continence even when people are severely affected by Alzheimer's. Making sure a mobile patient can easily access the bathroom is one of the most important safety issues you need to address to prevent falls and accidents.

    Remember, people with Alzheimer's get sick too, so if incontinence suddenly starts it needs to be medically investigated. It could be a urine infection that can be cured, thus resolving the issue.

     

    Lighting and Safety

    Insure good, safe lighting for rooms and when in outside areas. Provide a night light and try to reduce shadows as is practical.

     

    Install & Maintain Fire Alarms!

     

    Bedroom and Bed Safety

    Put their bed mattress and springs on the floor if they are prone to falls. Use appropriate support and bed cot sides. I do not believe that restraint should be use unless in an emergency for a very brief period of time.

     

    ‘Childproofing' Hazardous Chemicals and Objects

    Brief notes:

    Household chemicals, knives dangerous objects such as tools and equipment

    • Use childproof locks on cupboards, remove to a room not accessed.
    • Guns: a sharepost from Dorian gives more information ‘Guns and Alzheimer's Don't Mix'.
    • Fires and heaters-Fireguards, box in hot radiators, Change heating system if hazard too great.
    • High windows-Window locks.
    • Cars and driving- Here is more on this very difficult subject:

    Driving and Dementia 

  • Elderly drivers and when to stop 

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    Driving when you have dementia

    • Fall prevention alarms- These sound when someone tries to get out of bed or a chair.

    Managing Confusion of Alzheimer's Disease

    De-personalization will increase confusion. Include the person in decision making whenever possible. Feeling you have some control over your environment is very important for maintaining skills, interest and for self esteem.

     

    It is important to encourage self-care and get them to give you feedback, i.e. are you comfortable? Do you want to clean your teeth/have a shower etc.?

    Safety Without Restraints

    I do not believe that restraint should be used unless in an emergency and only then for a very brief period of time.

    Finding Alternatives to Restraining Dementia Patients 

    More on safety without restraints

    The complex issues of Physical Restraint Use on People with Dementia


    Comfort and Safety

    Fundamental to safety is comfort. People with Alzheimer's are less likely to wander if they feel safe, are not hungry, constipated or ill (for instance with fever & delirium). The list is endless as to how bodily function environment affects us all. Try to keep room temperature between 21°C to 23.8°C (70F-75F) for comfort and to increase alertness and mobility.

     

Published On: December 15, 2010