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General Home Safety Tips for Alzheimer's Care

Throughout the Home

Changes that may need to be made throughout your home include:
 
  • Display emergency numbers and your home address near all telephones.
 
  • Use an answering machine when you cannot answer calls, and set it to turn on after the fewest number of rings possible. A person with Alzheimer's disease often may be unable to take messages or could become a victim of telephone exploitation. Turn ringers on low to avoid distraction and confusion. Put all portable and cell phones and equipment in a safe place so that they will not be easily lost.
 
  • Install smoke alarms near all bedrooms; check their functioning and batteries frequently.
 
  • Avoid the use of flammable and volatile compounds near gas water heaters. Do not store these materials in an area where a gas pilot light is used.
 
  • Install secure locks on all outside doors and windows.
 
  • Hide a spare house key outside in case the person with Alzheimer's disease locks you out of the house.
 
  • Avoid the use of extension cords if possible by placing lamps and appliances close to electrical outlets. Tack extension cords to the baseboards of a room to avoid tripping.
 
  • Cover unused outlets with childproof plugs.
 
  • Place red tape around floor vents, radiators, and other heating devices to deter the person with Alzheimer's disease from standing on or touching a hot grid.
 
  • Check all rooms for adequate lighting.
 
  • Place light switches at the top and the bottom of stairs.
 
  • Stairways should have at least one handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps. If possible, stairways should be carpeted or have safety grip strips.
 
  • Keep all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) locked. Each bottle of prescription medicine should be clearly labeled with the patient's name, name of the drug, drug strength, dosage frequency, and expiration date. Child-resistant caps are available if needed.
 
  • Keep all alcohol in a locked cabinet or out of reach of the person with Alzheimer's disease. Drinking alcohol can increase confusion.
 
  • If smoking is permitted, monitor the person with Alzheimer's disease while he or she is smoking. Remove matches, lighters, cigarettes, and ashtrays and other means of smoking from view. This reduces potential fire hazards, and with these reminders out of sight, the person may forget the desire to smoke.
 
  • Avoid clutter, which can create confusion and danger. Throw out/recycle newspapers and magazines regularly. Keep all walk areas free of furniture.
 
  • Keep plastic bags out of reach. A person with Alzheimer's disease may choke or suffocate.
 
  • Remove all guns or other weapons from the home, or safety proof them by installing safety locks or by removing ammunition and firing pins.
 
  • Lock all power tools and machinery in the garage, workroom, or basement.
 
  • Remove all poisonous plants from the home. Check with local nurseries or poison control centers for a list of poisonous plants.
 
  • Keep fish tanks out of reach. The combination of glass, water, electrical pumps, and potentially poisonous aquatic life could be harmful to a curious person with Alzheimer's disease.
 
  • Make sure all computer equipment and accessories, including electrical cords, are kept out of the way. If valuable documents or materials are stored on a home computer, protect the files with passwords. Consider monitoring the computer use of the person with Alzheimer's disease and installing software that screens for objectionable or offensive material on the Internet.
 
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