Caregivers-Thinking About Risk Assessment and Alzheimer's

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • A lot of questions we see on OurAlzheimer' ask how caregivers can help people with Alzheimer's who are behaving in a way perceived as putting them ‘at risk'. These questions cover a huge area of topics, for instance, how long someone with Alzheimer's should drive?, have access to firearms?, at what point is it reasonable to make someone do something they do not want to do? (for instance, wash, go to the doctor, stop taking medication ), at what point do you intervene to stop them living alone?, when should we use restraint to prevent falls? I thought it might be helpful to look at some of the most important issues so that you can make important decisions about cargiving and risk assessment.

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    Thinking about Care Planning and Risk Assessment

    We all want to make decisions that are in your loved one's best interests. It is a balance of human rights, maintaining individualism under the banner of ‘doing good/doing no harm'. So when you are thinking about taking steps to protect them you need some basic principles:

    • You need to respect their dignity by enabling them to maintain as much personal control as possible.
    • You need to promote their rights and to enable as many real and informed choices as is possible, given their impairments.
    • You should promote their need for contact and relationships with others and restrict their movements as little as possible.
    • You should also think about promoting their creativity and wellbeing.


    As caregivers we know that acting in the person's best interests can be emotionally and practically very difficult. Think about;


    Care Planning at the Early Stage of Dementia

    Respect wishes and make decisions about risk only when someone has a dementia such as Alzheimer's and is affected by their level of cognitive functioning (brain abilities that enable a person to perform complex interactions with the environment). Alzheimer's is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. In Alzheimer's disease people's ability to communicate their feelings and wishes becomes increasingly affected. By planning care with them and discussing possible scenarios that protect them from harm, yet do no harm, gives you important guidelines for their care in the middle and late stages of the disease.


    Talk to them and write down their wishes. Think about;


    The Role of Law in Risk Assessment

    The law can be used to write guidelines for medical care when people with Alzheimer's find making decisions too difficult. Remember that different skills are required to help with communication problems so that you empower your loved one for as long as possible.


    Here are some more links to further information on legal issues and Alzheimer's that will help you and the person with Alzheimer's in making judgements on risk assessment and best care.

    More Information on:

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

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Published On: January 05, 2011