Dementia Home Safety Tips

Dementia Safety At Home

Determining if a home is safe for someone who is living with dementia can be difficult. There are some key factors to making the most accurate assessment possible, and it first starts by identifying possible areas of danger and hazards. We’ll discuss some of these factors in this article.

Is there adequate lighting or are there tripping hazards?

As people age, vision changes occur that include needing more light to see things, and losing peripheral vision. These changes make it important to have a room well lighted and to remove items that may become tripping hazards such as throw rugs and coffee tables. As someone progresses through dementia, they lose even more of the peripheral vision and tend to only see what is directly in front as if they are looking through binoculars, as well as having trouble with depth perception and knowing the distance of an object. These changes make it more difficult to move around safely.

Is there access danger areas such as the garage, pool or outdoor areas?

When someone is living with dementia, they can begin to have difficulty navigating their environment both in the house and outside of the house. People living with dementia can become turned around very easily and get lost.

Are emergency devices in working order?

While there are many types of emergency devices, a few to confirm are in working order are:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Smoke detectors
  • Locks
  • Fire extinguishers

Other questions and factors to consider for Dementia home safety

  • Is the hot water heater temperature a set at 120 degrees or less?
  • Is there access to weapons, cleaning solutions and posions or medications?
  • Can your loved on safely use appliances?
  • Can your loved one utilize safety devices and their phone if necessary?
  • Do you have an emergency kit and numbers somewhere accessible in case it is needed quickly?

This list is certainly not exhaustive, so we do also recommend you take a look at the Health In Aging and ADT websites for more tips when assessing the safety of someone’s current living situation who is living with Dementia. Orchard at Brookhaven is also here to offer guidance to Atlanta area residences in making adjustments to your home or if a change in living is needed.

Tips For Caregivers Seeing Brain Change

Tips For Caregivers Seeing Brain Change

When someone finds themselves in the role of a caregiver, there are some key questions and things to consider when they start to see brain change.

What are my strengths and weaknesses as a caregiver?

Everyone has things that they are good at and things that they struggle with, and it is important to know the difference. When someone finds themselves in the role of a caregiver, it is important to take an honest look at strengths and struggles so that you can begin to look for help. Why is this important? Because your relationship with your loved one depends on it. When a caregiver tries to take care of all of the new responsibilities required of supporting someone living with brain change, it can be very difficult on the relationship. Identifying strengths and struggles will assist you in finding the right support for both you and the person living with brain change and can significantly help the relationship.

What caregiver support resources are available?

Finding resources both on the internet and in the community will be very important. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Alzheimer’s Association of Georiga
  • Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Dementia Action Alliance
  • For Atlanta area residences, Orchard at Brookhaven is a resource that will provide education, consultation and family support.

    How can I find local resources that will help me with this process?

    Aging Care is a website that helps identify resources by state so you can find support locally.

    Support options for caregivers

    The first step in finding support is to recognize strengths as well as areas where support will be needed. The second step is understanding that reaching out and asking for support is actually a strength and will help both the caregiver and the person with brain change.

    Check out care options. Here is a list of different options for care:

    • In Home Care
    • Day Care
    • Private Duty
    • Skilled Home Health
    • Hospice Care
    • Independent Living
    • Continuing Care Retirement Community
    • Assisted Living
    • Assisted Living with specialized dementia support
    • Skilled Nursing Facility

    Act before a crisis happens

    People living with dementia will go through several stages, because dementia is progressive, chronic and terminal. In all of the stages, the person will have definite strengths and abilities, and while these abilities do change and decline, there are always things that we can do to support the remaining abilities. If plans are not made before these changes occur, you will find yourself in a crisis.

    Know your thresholds

    Knowing your threshold; what you can tolerate and what you have trouble with will help you avert a crisis. If you know that you can support your loved one with daily routines, but helping them with daily care will be more difficult for you, then, it will be important to begin the process of finding good support before that time comes, therefore, when you need help, it will already be planned.

    There are many things to think about when someone is experiencing brain change, being proactive will be a tremendous help.

Signs Of Abnormal Aging

Signs Of Abnormal Aging

For this article we wanted to consider the question “How does someone know if what they are experiencing is normal aging or something else?”

Signs of Normal vs Abnormal Aging

A brain that is aging without dementia, needs longer to process information and learn something new. It also needs less distractions such as music playing or the TV on in the background when reading or trying to pay attention to a conversation. As we age, the brain holds on to more and more information due to the fact that those brains have taken in more information over a longer period of time. Therefore, recalling a name might become more difficult because there are more people to remember. However, if someone starts to forget the names of people closest to them, or has always been excellent at remembering names, then this may be an indication of something more than normal aging.

Most people start to be concerned about dementia the older they get and this is for a good reason. As we age, the probability of dementia increases. But just because someone forgets why they go into a room, or cannot find a word, does not mean that they have dementia. One thing to pay attention to is if you lose a word, can you think if it later? And if you can’t remember why you are in a room, can you remember why you went in, after retracing your steps? People with dementia will not be able to remember the word or why they were in the room later in the day.

Identifying Significant Change

One of the most important factors is if what someone is experiencing is a significant CHANGE, meaning that if someone has always been challenged at directions and gets turned around while out driving, this may not be an indicator of a not normally aging brain. There are several tests that are given that help provide a good idea of brain function and health. The AD8 is a set of questions that have 3 probable answers which are:

  1. There is no difference
  2. Unsure about a difference (there could be a difference in ability but you may not have enough information to answer the question)
  3. There Is a difference from how the person used to be, or what they could do.

You can download the AD8 test here.

Getting a baseline cognitive test is a very good idea because it is important to know if there is a CHANGE in brain function. If you do find that there is something that is not a normal process of aging, it is best to find that our as soon as possible in order to start making plans, which includes looking into possible support services if ever needed. Orchard at Brookhaven is a focused community in the Atlanta area for people needing support and has a variety of living opportunities in several neighborhoods within the community. These smaller neighborhood offer a variety of choices, purposeful support, individual support plans and a highly trained team.

Dementia Caregivers and Stress

Dementia Caregivers & Stress

Everyone has stress in their life. But as Dr McEwen says in the below video clip, not all stress is bad stress. Our brains need to be challenged on a daily basis to help it stay healthy, but some stress can be very damaging to our brain. Being the caregiver of someone living with dementia can cause this kind of stress. Dementia is caused by structural and chemical changes that occur in the brain and therefore being a caregiver to someone who is living with brain change, can also be emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually draining. This can cause caregivers to experience different kinds of grief, including, anticipatory grief, sudden loss, complicated loss and feeling as if their loved one is lost because they seem so different. With aging and dementia,  grief is created by the inevitable loss of life. Find more about grief and grief support by visiting this website.

Negative stress can dramatically lower your quality of life, and it is important to recognize the warning signs.

Signs That You Have Negative Stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Healthy Tips For Dementia Caregivers

You can significantly reduce the amount of bad stress in your life by making a few small changes.  The key to making these changes is to look at your whole life. This means to take a holistic approach, which encompasses the body, heart, mind and spirit.  A holistic approach has been demonstrated to lower stress levels and promote a sense of well-being. Because doing too much at one time and trying to fix everything, can also increase your stress level, begin by choosing one thing to work on at a time.

Before you begin to look at things to change, it is also important to find a support system to help you make these healthy changes.  Being a caregiver can be a very isolating experience which can happen for many reasons. But we are built to be in relationship and therefore it is very important to find people who can support you in your journey.  If family are unable to be supportive, look at places and people in your community to reach out to. The Orchard at Brookhaven, will have support groups for caregivers and loved ones that focus on helping you with this journey and making it work for you and your loved one. Another great resource is the Alzheimers Association Georgia Chapter.

In our next article we will look at some ways for caregivers to live a holistic healthy life.