Previously published in Examiner
Part 9 of the tips for caregivers series
When you are dealing with a family member with advanced Alzheimer’s, you need to danger-proof your home. You will need to look at everything in your home from a different viewpoint. For family members with very advanced Alzheimer’s, think about how you would be safety-proof your home for a young child. Start with your bathrooms. Look at the shelves in your medicine cabinet. Do they contain dangerous medications and unsafe razors? You will need a locked cabinet or you may need to put your unsafe items in a bathroom inaccessible to your family member who has advanced Alzheimer’s. Even people who suffer from less severe Alzheimer’s will need some safety precautions,such as bars on the tub for them to help themselves in and out, and safety faucets that prevent them from getting scalded.
Next, move onto all areas in your family member’s home that have telephones. Beside each phone, make sure you have the number for emergency services, a contact number for a neighbor, any important numbers, and your own address. Clearly identify what each piece of information means. For example, don’t just write the name of a child or sibling and the number. Label them as “your daughter Nancy’s phone number” or “your home address.” This will help your family member with Alzheimer’s take care of him or herself in case of an emergency, or if something happens to you.
When you are not home, try to have an answering machine take calls. Even getting a call from the vet’s office reminder that the cat is due for shots can be very upsetting for a person with advanced Alzheimer’s. You can even shut off the ringer on phones so that your family member will not hear the calls and answer them. This practice also prevents less than reputable telephone solicitors from taking advantage of Alzheimer’s patients’ confusion and pressuring them to buy items or accept services they don’t need, understand, or want.
To be continued
Information for caregivers in the Montreal Area
Memory and Alzheimer’s Help in Montreal