Room To Room Safety
By Marilynn Larkin
* Don't wax linoleum kitchen floors.
* Use pots and pans with handles that don't conduct heat to prevent burns if the person reaches for a hot pot or pan.
* Install childproof latches on cabinets and drawers, and tamper-proof stove knobs and water faucets.
* Use a hot plate, microwave. or toaster oven for cooking when possible. These are safer than conventional range ovens.
* Keep kitchen matches, toothpicks, plastic bags, bottles of spices, and other small items in the kitchen out of reach.
* Don't put magnets that look like food on the refrigerator door.
* Install handrails and grab bars in and around the tub. These are available from medical supply houses.
* Use a tub seat or bench in the shower or tub if the person has problems with balance or muscle weakness. The seat should be the same height as a wheelchair, approximately 19 inches. Some tub seats have adjustable legs or back support. If you cannot get a tub seat, place a sturdy nonrust chair with rubber tips on the legs in the tub or shower stall.
* Place a rubber mat or decals on the tub floor to prevent slipping.
*Replace glass shower doors with a shower curtain.
* Insulate exposed hot-water pipes under the sink to protect the persons legs while sitting.
* Remember mirrors or glossy surfaces can be frightening to people with Alzheimer's. You may have to cover them.
* Most toilet seats are too low for people who use wheelchairs. Toilet guard rails or an elevated toilet seat can be installed to compensate.
* The ideal height for sinks for individuals with Alzheimer's who use wheelchairs is twenty-four inches from the floor. Place a regular chair under the sink if there isn't enough room for a wheelchair.
* If your regular bedroom is on the second floor of the house, consider arranging one of the first floor so that the person you're caring for doesn't have to go up or down the stairs.
* Falling out of bed is a common problem. Reduce the risk by placing the bed in a corner. Unless the person is completely bedbound, a hospital bed with railings is not recommended because the individual may try to climb out and fall. An alternative is to place a mattress or futon next to the bed, which will reduce the impact if the person falls.
* Make sure the bed is stable, preferably up against a wall. If you are using a hospital bed, lock the brakes.
* Clothing should be hung on rods that are thirty six inches from the floor so that they are accessible to a person who uses a wheelchair. Shoes and accessories can be placed in shoe bags that hang from the door.
* Place a telephone or emergency buzzer within easy reach of the bed.
Porch or Patio
* Remove storm doors or cover them with protective grillwork so that the person with Alzheimer's does not inadvertently walk into them or put a hand or foot through them.
* Paint steps to a porch or deck in bright contrasting colors so that they are clearly visible. Install a banister if it appears the person might fall
* Check for uneven ground, cracked pavement, and any branches the person might trip over.
* Make sure yard furniture is stable.
* Monitor individuals when they go outdoors. They may eat flowers, weeds, or dirt, or trip on uneven ground or stones.
In The Car
* Seat belts are a must when transporting persons with Alzheimer's. Because individuals may try to grab your arm while you are driving, have them sit in the backseat.
* Lock the car doors. Some cars have childproof locking systems that prevent the person in the backseat from unlocking doors manually. If not, place heavy tape over knobs and handles to discourage tampering.
* Remember. some individuals are afraid to get into vehicles altogether.
In addition to safeguarding the environment, it is important to have an emergency plan ready in case something does happen.
For example, whom will you call if the person falls and hurts themselves?
What will you do in case of fire?
If the person misinterprets your attempts to remove him or her from the home and resists you?
Prepare for all contingencies and discuss your plans with other family members and friends.
(c) copyright 1996
Alzheimer's Outreach http://alzheimers.zarcrom.com
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