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Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers: How Safe Is Your Home and Car?

Caregiving for Alzheimer's Patients: Home Safety

Caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease often have to look at their homes through new eyes to identify and correct safety risks. Creating a safe environment can prevent many stressful and dangerous situations. Tips for caregivers include:
 
  • Install secure locks on all outside windows and doors, especially if the person is prone to wandering.
 
  • Remove the locks on bathroom doors to prevent the person from accidentally locking himself or herself in.
 
  • Use childproof latches on kitchen cabinets and any place where cleaning supplies or other chemicals are kept.
 
  • Label medications and keep them locked up. Also make sure knives, lighters and matches, and guns are secured and out of reach.
 
  • Keep the house free from clutter. Remove scatter rugs and anything else that might contribute to a fall. Make sure lighting is good both inside and out.
 
  • Consider installing an automatic shut-off switch on the stove to prevent burns or fire.
 
(Click Alzheimer's Disease and Safety Room-by-Room for more suggestions on improving home safety.)  
 

Caregiving for Alzheimer's Patients: Driving

Making the decision that a person with Alzheimer's disease is no longer safe to drive is difficult, and it needs to be communicated carefully and sensitively. Even though the person may be upset by the loss of independence, safety must be the priority. Tips for caregivers include:
 
  • Look for clues that safe driving is no longer possible, including getting lost in familiar places, driving too fast or too slow, disregarding traffic signs, or getting angry or confused.
 
  • Be sensitive to the person's feelings about losing the ability to drive, but be firm in your request that he or she no longer do so. Be consistent, don't allow the person to drive on "good days" but forbid it on "bad days."
 
  • Ask the doctor to help. The person may view the doctor as an "authority" and be willing to stop driving. The doctor also can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and request that the person be re-evaluated.
 
  • If necessary, take the car keys. If just having keys is important to the person, substitute a different set of keys.
 
  • If all else fails, disable the car or move it to a location where the person cannot see it or gain access to it.
 
5 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer's
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