When an aging parent has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, adult children face unique challenges. Protecting a parent with memory loss can be tough. Initially, you might need to assist with paying bills and managing household finances. It is common for people with dementia to struggle with these tasks.
As the disease progresses, there are a variety of issues loved ones will need to monitor and take precautions for. These include kitchen fires, wandering, and medication management. If you are the caregiver for or family member of an adult who has Alzheimer’s, these tips will be useful.
How to Keep a Senior with Alzheimer’s Safe at Home
- Take advantage of GPS technology: Research shows 6 out of 10 people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will wander from home at some point. Locating them quickly is key to a safe return, and GPS tracking devices are one way to do that. A variety of products have GPS built in. You can choose a watch or pendant, or even an innersole that fits in a shoe. Many GPS devices use wireless technology, making it possible to track a senior’s location in real time or near real time.
- Conduct a kitchen safety audit: Kitchens present safety hazards at every age, but especially for those with memory impairment. Judgement is often impacted by Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to eliminate as many risks as possible. One issue to address is keeping towels, aprons, curtains, and other flammables away from the stovetop. If they are too close, they can brush against a burner and ignite. Also make sure sharp knives, chemicals, and other potentially hazardous items are stored safely out of the senior’s reach.
Encouraging a senior’s independence is linked to slower disease progression but preparing meals can be a challenge. A senior may leave the kitchen and forget about a pan cooking on the stove. A device called Cook Stop might help. This electronic unit senses when a pan has been unattended too long and turns the stove off.
- Establish medication management: Seniors with early Alzheimer’s, especially those living alone, may get medications mixed up or forget to take them altogether. Your family might find electronic pill dispensers Some even sound an alert and open the designated compartment on the dispenser at the appropriate time.
- Monitor finances: Poor judgment combined with forgetfulness can make it difficult for an adult with dementia to keep their financial affairs in order. Common behaviors include paying some bills twice while neglecting others. Scams and identity theft are other concerns.
Depending on the stage of the disease, a family member may need to monitor a loved one’s accounts online or completely manage all banking and financial matters. You can also set up credit card alerts to receive a text when the card is used remotely or spending limits are exceeded.
- Assess for fall risks: Alzheimer’s disease can cause changes in gait and vision that put a senior at increased risk for falls. By assessing their home for potential problems, you can minimize their fall risk. Stair treads, clutter, poor lighting, and throw rugs are hazards to look for. These fall prevention tips from the National Council on Aging will help you identify areas of concern.
Dementia Care Options to Consider
Despite your best efforts, there might come a time when caring for a loved one with dementia at home is no longer safe. Heritage has 8 dementia care communities throughout Michigan. We encourage you to call today to learn more about the benefits of specialized dementia care.