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Safety

Introduction
Safety at home
Wandering
Driving
Travel safety
Prepare for a disaster
Medication safety

Introduction

A person with Alzheimer's can live in the comfort of his or her own home or a caregiver's home, provided that safety measures are in place. As the disease progresses, the person's abilities will change. So situations that are not of concern today may become potential safety issues in the future.

Below are some safety tips. See also the Safety Center on our main alz.org site.

Safety at home

Adapt the home to the person's changing needs. Re-evaluate your home safety measures regularly as new issues may arise.

Tips:

  • Use appliances that have an auto shut-off feature.
  • Install a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker on the stove.
  • Place deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors.

Wandering

Wandering and getting lost can put a person's safety in jeopardy. A person may be at risk for wandering if he or she comes back from a regular walk or drive later than usual; tries to fulfill former work obligations; or wants to "go home" even when at home.

Tips:

  • Have the person move around and exercise to reduce anxiety agitation and restlessness.
  • Ensure the person's basic needs are met (toileting, eating, thirst).
  • Enroll in MedicAlert ® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return ®, a nationwide identification program designed to assist in the return of those who wander and become lost.
  • Consider a web-based location management service that uses GPS to help track your elder. See our Comfort Zone ® website for more information.

Driving

Driving becomes a safety issue when the person fails to observe traffic signals, forgets how to locate familiar places or confuses the break and gas pedal. A person with dementia may insist on driving and refuse to give up the car keys.

Tips:

  • Ask a doctor to write the person a "do not drive" prescription.
  • Keep the car out of sight. Seeing the car may act like a visual cue to drive.
  • Disable the car by removing the distributor cap or the battery.
  • See our Driving Center for more tips.

Travel safety

Traveling with a person who has dementia requires careful planning and flexibility to ensure safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone.

Tips:

  • Stick with familiar travel destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
  • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person with dementia.
  • Inform service staff at airlines, airports, bus terminals and hotels that you are traveling with a person with dementia and may need extra help.

Prepare for a disaster

Disaster situations, such as a hurricane, earthquake or fire, have significant impact on everyone's safety, but they can be especially upsetting and confusing for individuals with dementia.

Tips:

  • Determine where you will go if you're forced to evacuate. Family, friends, hotels and shelters are options.
  • Have phone numbers of family in case you will need to change locations during an emergency or evacuation; keep in touch with them as you move.
  • Make an emergency kit that includes important documents, extra medications and a favorite possession that can calm and occupy the person.

Medication safety

Medications and how to manage their use safely is a big concern for many older people. For people with Alzheimer's, a doctor may prescribe medications that help ease disease symptoms, address depression or sleeplessness, or treat other medical conditions.

Tips:

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all medication to check for possible drug interactions.
  • Do not change dosages without first consulting the doctor.
  • Use a bill pox organizer. You may find it helpful to keep a daily list or calendar and check off each dose as it is taken.

Next: Stress Relief

Alzheimer's Association National Office 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601
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