If you are taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, it is important to remember that home safety is a top priority for those with memory loss. This is due to a variety of physical and mental challenges including vision, perception and balance that make daily living extremely difficult.
As noted by experts at the Mayo Clinic, a loved one with dementia has an especially high risk of falling. Additionally, a study reported in the medical journal, Age and Ageing, shows that senior adults with Alzheimer’s are three times more likely to suffer hip fractures.
The Risk of Falling Will Increase Over Time
As Shellie Kermin, Community Relations Director at North Woods Village in Mishawaka, IN points out, “Because of the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the risk of falls and injury only increases with the passage of time as mental and physical capabilities continue to decline.” Even during the early stages of the disease, a loved one can be at increased risk of falling when placed on medications for medical illnesses, which can cause confusion and disorientation.
During the middle stage of the disease, a loved one can be at higher risk of falls due to the loss of fine motor skills and coordination as well as the increased difficulties in performing basic activities of daily living. In this phase, your loved one may be unable to recognize hazardous situations such as wet floors, loose rugs, ice on the sidewalk and obstacles in his/her path.
Loved ones in the latter stages of memory loss will not walk again, but they could still be at risk of falling out of bed. Caregivers should discuss appropriate ways to protect them against falls and fractured hips with their physician. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends individually tailored, creative strategies to address this problem and adds, “There are many health and functional problems associated with physically restraining individuals, while no benefit is proven.”
Tips for Minimizing Your Loved One’s Fall Risk
Experts tell us that it is highly important for caregivers to take appropriate safety measures in and around the home as early in the disease process as possible to prevent falls. An article by The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation titled, “People With Alzheimer’s at High Risk of Falls,” highlights the recommendations of The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to reduce the chances of falling. Since about half of all falls occur in the home, the Center recommends several measures to make the home environment safer, including:
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
- Remove other items your loved one could trip over, such as papers, books, clothing and shoes from stairs and other places where he/she walks.
- Keep household items that might be a hazard out of sight and reach of your loved one.
- Place grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Purchase non-slip mats for the bathtub and shower floor.
- Improve the lighting in your home. As your loved one ages and the disease progresses, he/she will need brighter lighting to see well.
- Install handrails and place lights on all staircases.
- Provide your love one with appropriate shoes that offer good support and have thin non-slip soles. Slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads should be avoided.
Experts also recommend that you conduct a thorough assessment of the home to identify any additional hidden hazards not covered above. As noted previously, it is important to eliminate hazards as early as possible rather than putting them off to what might seem like a more convenient time. Loved ones with progressive memory loss can have an accident at any time.
Help Is Available for Caregivers
If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other form of memory loss, please know that you are not alone. The team at North Woods Village is here to help you understand memory impairment and cope with the challenges you face every day. Progressiveresidential Memory Care providers, such as North Woods Village at Edison Lakes, offer a variety of educational programs, support and special events designed to help family caregivers. We can help you deliver the best quality care and quality of life for your loved one while taking care of yourself, too.
Guiding. Caring. Inspiring.
For caregivers who recognize that the needs of their loved one are beyond what they can safely and appropriately provide in the home environment, leading, residential Memory Care Assisted Living Communities (MCALs), such as North Woods Village at Edison Lakes and its “NEW DIRECTIONS”SM program in Mishawaka, IN, provide the full continuum of services that have been shown to improve health and well-being, support brain health and delay the progression of memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
At North Woods Village at Edison Lakes, we believe senior adults thrive in an environment that offers an active, vibrant lifestyle with a variety of activities that engage the mind, body and spirit. Our “NEW DIRECTIONS”SM provides a safe, professional environment and proven, best-practice programs and services specifically designed to address the total physical, emotional and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other serious form of memory impairment.
For more information and helpful resources on Fall Prevention for your loved one, contact us today!