Low-Tech Tips To Keep Alzheimer’s Sufferers Safe
High-tech measures, from personal GPS devices to home monitoring systems, that keep Alzheimer’s patients safe have been making the news lately. But many seniors are reluctant to adopt sophisticated technologies, fearing they might be hard to use, while their caregivers might feel these cutting-edge tools are too expensive to implement in the home.
There’s no doubt that today’s technology can keep seniors safer than ever, but there are also many ways to keep yourself, or the loved one in your care, safe without breaking the bank or relying on today’s most advanced technology.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and keep loved ones safe.
A Memory Wall to Empower Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Short-term memory is usually the first to go in dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and other diseases. A memory wall can help your loved one remember doctor’s appointments, important phone numbers and grocery lists. With this information at hand, seniors will not notice their memory loss as easily, resulting in feelings of empowerment, and reducing feelings of helplessness and isolation that may lead to depression.
Use a cork board with large pushpins, which are easier for older hands to manage. Keep the corkboard organized, since patients with Alzheimer’s thrive when they feel a sense of order. You might also consider a whiteboard, while eliminates the need to handle pins or individual pieces of paper. Make different sections on the board using washi tape to write down information in different categories, clearly marked.
Place the board in a high-traffic area where your loved one can refer to it easily.
Keep Seniors Safe with New Door Locks
While high-tech locks can integrate with home automation systems to permit remote locking or provide access to caregivers, you don’t have to pay a lot or be locked into a monthly fee to enjoy the peace-of-mind of safer locks. A simple slide lock at the top of the door can provide an extra buffer to prevent a loved one from wandering if no one is paying attention. Never lock a senior in a home alone unless they know how to operate the locks and can get out in the event of a fire or flood.
Another inexpensive method to help keep seniors safe is frequently employed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Since dementia patients often have problems with depth perception or interpreting things they see, placing large rugs that are very dark blue or black in front of entry ways may lead a senior with Alzheimer’s to believe there is a pit or pool blocking their path and they will avoid the area.
Install Safety Bars to Prevent Falls
Falls are a top ranking cause of injury and death for seniors, with one in three people over the age of 65 falling each year. Those affected by dementia may have a higher risk of falls due to side effects of antipsychotic medications that may be prescribed and, in the later stages of dementia, diminished balance and reduced depth perception. Adding hand holds throughout the home can slash the risk of falls dramatically. Shower bars as well as rails by stairs and along hallways can be installed inexpensively by a caregiver or a handyman.
Provide Reminders for ADLs
As people age, the immune system’s ability to fight off disease-causing pathogens weakens, so hygiene becomes even more important to prevent disease.
Set alarm clocks to remind seniors with Alzheimer’s to wash their hands frequently and also remember to check the senior in your care for injuries. Cuts, scrapes or burns that go untreated can lead to infection or blood poisoning.
Healthy meals are another aspect of maintaining good health in seniors. Make sure easy-to-prepare foods, like fruits and vegetables, are readily available, and, again, set reminders for the senior to eat if the senior isn’t monitored by a caregiver 24/7 or living in an assisted living community where meals and snacks are served regularly.
Look For Changes in Patterns
Seniors with the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia may not require round-the-clock care if simple safety measures, such as those shared above, are followed.
Caregivers should watch for changes in behavioral patterns, which could indicate a worsening of the condition, an illness or even depression. For instance, if an aging parent typically phones you every day at noon and you don’t receive a call, check in. Reluctance to do activities they normally enjoy, whether that’s grocery shopping or a walk in the park, could indicate depression, or the senior could be trying to hide an illness.
Whether you take a low-tech or a high-tech approach, vigilance and awareness is key to helping seniors age-in-place longer, and also the key to greater peace-of-mind for you, the caregiver.
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