Many families today are choosing to have their elderly parents or relatives move into their home. It’s a much more attractive alternative for concerned relatives who would rather not send loved ones to a group care facility, and are not able to afford full-time home health care. However, keep in mind that inviting a relative with Alzheimer’s to come live with you will mean more than converting the home office to a spare bedroom. Lots of changes will have to be made to ensure home security and safety for both you and your family, and your home’s new resident. Start from the outside in with some of these helpful safety tips.
Clean Up. While it may have been common practice in the past to leave items like sports equipment, toys, dog dishes or leashes, and even the garden hose lying around the lawn, when a person with Alzheimer’s comes to stay it will be important to keep the lawn tidy and clutter free. Taking this extra step will help prevent slips, trips and falls.
Lighting. Make sure there is sufficient outside lighting not only around the front door, but all along the front walk, driveway, and any entranceways that lead outside the home. Instead of leaving lights on all night long, try installing at least one light that turns on with an automatic sensor on each side of the house.
Eliminate Slippery Surfaces. Pay special attention to everything from stairs to a slick driveway, especially in an area with frequent rain, ice or snow. If need be, add a textured surface to all steps, walkways, and driveways to make walking easier. Consider extending a handrail all the way along the front walk and up the front steps. Use reflective tape to mark the edges of all steps leading to and from the house, to prevent confusion in the dark or at dusk. It may be best to install a ramp as an alternative to especially difficult stairs and steps.
Protect the Swimming Pool. While a basic fence or gate might keep kids away from the pool, keep in mind an adult with Alzheimer’s may still be able to get in while you aren’t looking. Install a lock, and a fence around the pool that is higher than can be comfortably climbed over by a grown adult to prevent access. Always monitor the pool closely when in use. Consider installing a perimeter alarm, even one that sounds a pleasant chime as part of your existing home alarm system, as a warning to anyone in the house or the caregiver that someone has entered the pool area.
Protect the Grill. Do not leave flammable materials like coals, fuel, lighters, or matches around. A fire could easily get out of hand, or the person with Alzheimer’s could become seriously injured.
Consult with your Home Security System Provider. If an alarm system is going off every time the person with Alzheimer’s goes in and out of the house, he or she is likely to become extremely frightened. Consult with your security professionals for options on how to modify or manipulate your current service.