Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect one person- it can impact a whole family. Suddenly, family members are launched into an unfamiliar role and have to cope with their new situation. Thankfully, in the early stages, there is still time to plan for the future with loved ones. Here are some tips from Alzheimer’s Family Center’s social worker team for when you’re coping with your new role as a caregiver.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for the elderly. People with dementia have an even bigger risk because of their impaired judgment and lack of sensory perception. It is up to you to determine if your loved one’s living spaces are a safe environment. For Fall Prevention Month, here are ways you can make your home fall proof and prevent a trip to the emergency room.
As his/her eyesight starts to worsen, it’s vital to provide adequate lighting in the household for your loved one. He/she might be prone to illusions and misconceptions, resulting in them walking in the incorrect direction.
Clear a Walking Path
The more clutter that is on the floor, the more likely a fall will occur. Clearing the floor of electrical cords, loose rugs, and newspapers can help prevent tripping hazards. Quickly clean up messes, especially liquid spills that may cause slippery floors.
Install grab bars or shower chairs in the restroom
To help the bathing and toileting process go smoothly, grab bars and shower chairs are good safety options. Having your loved one hold onto one while using the restroom will help preserve balance and prevent falling on slippery floors. However, do not use a towel bar as a substitution. These are prone to ripping out of the wall.
Regularly Review Medications
Ensure that your loved one’s medication side effects don’t increase the risk of falling and administer them only as prescribed.
Think about Color Contrast
When the brain changes in a person with dementia, they may struggle to notice the differences in color unless there are strong contrasting differences. If both your sofa and carpet are white, your loved one might not be able to distinguish between the two and trip as they walk past it.
To increase balance, people with dementia should be encouraged to get some form of simple exercise. Whether it’s Pilates or just a walk in the park, the strengthening of muscles helps boost the mood and maintain stability.
This post was written in collaboration with Nurse Traci Roundy.