Dementia presents significant challenges and safety risks for those affected. Activities such as bathing, dressing, and going to the store often require more time and assistance due to problems with thinking and memory. A person with Dementia is at an increased risk for falling, even at home.
The following is a list of 10 ideas a caregiver and/or loved one can enact to reduce household fall risk.
1) Remove throw rugs from the floors: layered flooring increases the likelihood of catching a toe or foot, leading to abrupt loss of balance.
2) Add multiple nightlights to the rooms most frequented: It is important to ‘light the way’ for people with dementia, especially if they are prone to getting up at night.
3) Color for guidance: Use color arrangement to make distinct borders in the home. Apply solid colors to decrease confusion, use contrasting colors to differentiate objects from the background, and avoid the color black, which can appear like a hole to a person with Dementia.
4) Create a common place: Set up a home base for all regular activities. This area is often the bedroom, but can be anywhere a significant amount of time is spent during the day. Familiar space within the home decreases the impulse to wander.
5) Apply a consistent sleep schedule: Dementia can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to increased restlessness. Help him or her get to bed at a consistent time in a comfortable environment and limit daytime naps.
6) Participate in regular exercise: Mobility and agility are keys to reducing fall risk. If you make it a habit of guiding a person with Dementia through exercise activities they enjoy, the potential to maintain and even improve balance can be enhanced.
7) Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs: It is important to ensure that balance systems in the brain and body are not restrained by alcohol or other drugs, which can directly increase fall risk for a person with Dementia.
8) Maintain structure and specificity with medications: Be precise about medication administration, and keep track of any observed physical and/or mental effects. Certain medications, or combinations of medication, may cause imbalance and/or changes in mental status.
9) Upgrade bathroom safety: Installing safeguards such as grab rails, shower chairs, and bath mats can decrease general bathroom fall risk.
10) Deadbolt the main door, and lock additional points of exit such as doors and windows: Dementia can be associated with increased frequency of wandering and getting lost. By securing the home, you can decrease the likelihood of the individual meeting unfamiliar terrain without supervision or assistance.
Progression of Dementia symptoms varies from person to person. Fall prevention measures can reduce the need for physical assistance and facilitate peace in the home. Bring in as many people as possible to provide helping hands; it truly ‘takes a village’ to maintain a quality of life and increase happiness among community members caring for those with Dementia.
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