Alzheimer's Disease: Creating a Safer Environment
Adapting your environment
Because activities of daily living — including eating,
bathing, grooming, dressing, and using the toilet — can become more difficult
for people with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to modify the environment to
make it as easy as possible for the person with Alzheimer's disease to live and function.
- Have emergency numbers (police, fire, poison control, and a neighbor's
phone number) readily available in case of emergency. Suggestion: write
these numbers on a sticker and put it on the receiver.
- Have at least one phone located where it is always accessible.
Suggestion: keep a cordless phone or cell phone in your pocket. This is
especially important if you fall and can't get up to use the phone.
- Make sure smoke detectors work properly.
- Avoid the use of space heaters and electric blankets; these are fire hazards.
- Consider installing a medical alert or personal alarm system for
emergencies. Professional systems link directly to a representative 24 hours
a day, seven days a week. If a person has an immediate medical problem, he
or she simply pushes a button on a special device worn around the wrist or
neck, and a signal for help is immediately sent.
- Take a photo of your loved one that could be used if he or she were to wander.
A careful evaluation of the home, especially the
physical layout and the services that will be available to the person for
support, is essential. Things that should be evaluated include safe use of the
stove or oven, and bathroom/bathtub or shower use. A full home safety evaluation
can be performed by therapists and social service workers who are professionally
trained to look for potential hazards.
- Bathroom — The bathroom can be a dangerous place for a person with
Alzheimer's disease. As the person's ability to function decreases, it may
become necessary to install grab bars in the shower or fold-down shower
seats. Also, be sure to use non-slip floor mats and slip-resistant appliqués
or tiles in the shower or tub.
- Furniture — Simplify furniture arrangements. Make it as easy as possible
for the person with Alzheimer's disease to navigate a room and get from
point A to point B. Move or remove objects, such as a loose throw rug, that
could be a tripping hazard.
- Lighting — Be sure there is sufficient lighting. As people get older,
they require two to three times the amount of light they needed when they
were younger. Add the confusion associated with Alzheimer's disease, and you
can understand how important it is to have enough light. However, too much
light, especially when it causes glare, can be distracting and irritating.
Research suggests that even mild Alzheimer's disease
is associated with an increased risk of accidents. It is important to check with
your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to learn the procedure for evaluating
the patient's driving ability. Many areas will perform a thorough "driver safety
evaluation" to determine whether it is safe for the person to continue driving.
If there is any impairment noted in visual or spatial abilities or judgment, the
person with Alzheimer's disease should not be driving.
- Make your environment as comfortable and as pleasing as possible.
- Use colors you find soothing to decorate. Use fragrances that relax you.
- Keep photos and music around that uplift your spirit.
- If you find you would like company during the day, consider a pet such as a dog, bird, a fish, or a cat. If you are concerned about the pet's daily
care, surround yourself with plants or flowers.
- Make sure the temperature and climate are suitable to your sensitivities. The more comfortable and uplifting your environment is, the
more positive your attitude will be.
By maintaining a high quality of life and a positive attitude, your diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease will be more manageable.
© Copyright 1995-2014 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
Can't find the health information you’re looking for?
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/2/2014…#9586