Safety Issues In Alzheimer's Disease
In the early stage of Alzheimer's disease, patients
generally don't present safety problems. But because of the nature of the
disease's progression, those in the later stages of Alzheimer's do present
safety problems. For example, many early-stage Alzheimer patients can still
safely drive a car. But by three years after diagnosis, more than 50% give up
Following are hints to help you, the caregiver, keep your loved
1. Alzheimer patients are prone to falls. Floors should be kept
clear of loose items. Remove scatter rugs. Roll up lamp cords. Roll up extension
cords. Move furniture from walking areas. Place tape on sharp furniture
2. Put decals on sliding glass doors so Alzheimer patients don't
accidentally attempt to walk through them.
3. Often, Alzheimer patients
try to hide objects. Ovens, burners, and garbage disposals are favorite hiding
spots. You may want to consider putting a lock on the oven door, and
disconnecting the garbage disposal.
4. Never leave an Alzheimer patient
alone in a car. They may get caught in the power windows, release the brakes, or
accidentally start the car.
5. Store all medicines, solvents, and
cleaning supplies in locked drawers and cabinents.
6. Consider removing
the lock tumblers from a patient's room to avoid having them accidentally lock
themselves in their room from the inside.
7. Keep clotheslines high
enough that a patient can't walk into them. This may prevent a fall or even
prevent them from choking.
8. Alzheimer patients have a reduced ability
to feel pain. Many patients are unable to speak, so they cannot tell you they
are in pain. Therefore, never feed a patient food or liquid without testing the
temperature first. Also, always test the water temperature before exposing the
patient to shower or bath.
9. Some patients can be frightened by the jets
of water from a showerhead. Consider replacing the jet spray showerhead with one
that gives off a fine spray.
10. Make the shower or bath tub a safer
place by installing grab bars in the shower and bath to prevent falls. Invest in
a sturdy bath or shower seat, which will allow a patient to bathe while sitting
down. Also, consider a rubber, non-slip bath or shower mat with special suction
11. Placing outlet covers on electrical sockets will help prevent a
patient from receiving an electrical shock , should they stick a piece of metal
into the outlet.
12. Alzheimer patients cannot see well in the dark.
Provide night lights in walking areas and at the top of stairs. Provide low
level table lighting for night use. Consider putting a safety gate at the top of
stairs at night.
13. Many Alzheimer patients wander. Remember to keep
upstairs windows locked. Sliding glass doors can be locked by putting a small
board in the sliding track. You might want to consider using a red stop sign on
the door. Research has shown that red is one color that patients do see
14. Alzheimer patients fatigue quickly. They seem to have the most
energy in the morning and early afternoon hours. As darkness approaches, they
become irritable and may display obstinate behaviors. often, they spend the
night awake and wander about. This is referred to as " sundown syndrome ". A
baby nursery monitor in the patient's bedroom will allow you to hear the patient
if he or she begins to stir during the night.
15. Sundown syndrome can be
eased for Alzheimer patients by making certain they receive regular exercise.
Frequent walks outdoors in the bright light not only provides exercise, but it
also exposes the patient to much needed sunlight. Research has shown that
patients sleep better and longer if they receive adequate daily sunlight
exposure. Bright light increases the secretion of melatonin in the brain.
Melatonin regulates the daily rhythms of sleep, body temperature, blood pressure
and heart rate. Melatonin is produced more as darkness approaches and reaches
peak production sometime in the early morning hours. Research has also found
that many Alzheimer patients have low blood levels of melatonin, so it is even
more vital to increase melatonin production by bright light exposure
16. Consider removing mirrors from a patient's room...some
patients are unable to recognize themselves in a mirror. They may think a
stranger is in their room. Try to fill the patient's room with photos of people
and events that stir up pleasant memories.