Safety Tips with Early Alzheimer’s

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Typically, a person first displaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease is living alone or with an elderly spouse. My mother-in-law, for instance, lived with her husband. Her early symptoms were memory related and didn’t interfere much with her daily living. Other than not letting her drive, she didn’t require much attention. As her disease progressed my father-in-law developed Parkinson’s disease. Eventually, they both moved into the home of a daughter. Soon thereafter, they needed care at a nursing home. This type of progression is not uncommon.

The level of safety concerns increases as they progress through the stages of the disease. In the early stages the dementia patient is probably living at home. During this time there are some precautions you can take such as:

• Call them daily to see they are safe and remind them to take their medication.
• If you live nearby fill their daily pill reminder with medication or order from a pharmacy that packages pills in dosage packets. This will help them take their medication properly and let you know if they are properly medicating.
• Provide an electronic fall notification device that notifies authorities in case of an emergency.
• Put a notice on the refrigerator for emergency personnel. List the person’s name, pertinent medical information including doctor’s name and medication. Include your name and phone number. It would be helpful to provide copies of insurance cards and I.D. card.
• Provide an emergency bracelet with their name and nickname. Also, include your phone number.
• You can leave a realtor box or electronic deadbolt on the front door and give the police the code. This code can be provided to anyone needing access while maintaining privacy.
• Install handrails on both sides of stairs.
• Consider home delivered meals to provide enough nourishment. Your senior center should have information available.
• Many churches offer weekly communion in the home for home-bound members. This not only provides fellowship and connection with their church, but also one more set of eyes. Remember the church with financial support. If tithe and/or offering is important to your loved-one, help them establish automatic payments to their church.

As they progress in the disease they will require more attention. Here are some suggestions:

• Be proactive. Contact the police to let them know they might wander. Some police departments offer extra services such as GPS bracelets and human scent jars.
• We live in an age of wonderful technology which can be used to keep track of loved-ones. We purchased security cameras which connect to the internet via Wi-Fi and display on our smart phone. We can watch, listen, and talk to them from our phone when away from home. These cameras are surprisingly economical. You must have a good Wi-Fi connection at the home.
• Put covers on the range, remove the burners, unplug the range or shut off the breaker
• Install night lights.
• Avoid extension cords and rugs to avoid falls.
• Install grab bars at the toilet and in the tub or shower, and mount bed assist rails.
• Raise the toilet seat with a seat extension.
• Place a bath mat or adhesive stickers to the tub and provide a bath stool.
• Change the bathroom knob from a privacy knob to a passage knob to prevent accidental lock-in.
• Change the shower or tub faucet to one with a mixer to prevent scalding, or turn down the water heater.
• Remove or lock up knives, firearms, and medication.

Acts 2:42 NASB – They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.

© Ronald Milburn 2018