Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

4 Tips for a Safer Home

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When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it is often difficult to know what to do. A few minor adjustments, considerations and sufficient support at home may enable a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia to continue living a comfortable, familiar and independent life. We have spoken to Neville Cook with over a decades experience in the age care industry, providing purpose built facilities for retirement communities and nursing homes in New Zealand and England. Based on his experience, here are some of his top tips for making a home safer for an ageing loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s:

1) Removing Trip Hazards

Neville mentions that “when we are young and able, we take for granted and do not fully appreciate how difficult simple tasks can be.” What could be a simple plush rug in the living room can pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of an elderly person with the potential to trip and hurt themselves on nearby furniture. He suggests rolling a tennis ball along the floor to check if there are any bumps moving between areas of the house. He also suggests installing grab rails where there are transitions in platforms, especially in bathrooms, where accidents are more likely to occur.

2) Reducing Risks of Fires

Along with bathrooms, Neville mentions that “kitchens are one of the most hazardous areas in the house for old people.” This risks attached to kitchens are often related to fires. These risks are heightened when somebody has Alzheimer’s or Dementia, where food can be left cooking on the stove and forgotten about. Neville suggests installing heat detectors or smoke alarms in the case of fires, as well as cooker guards, electric stoves or automatic stove turn-off devices to prevent fires from occurring. Installing these devices can help you keep your loved ones and their neighbours safe in their own home.

3) Lighting

As we age, less light reaches the back of our eyes making objects and colours appear less vivid and reducing our depths of perceptions. These symptoms are especially common amongst people with Alzheimer’s disease, where visual details may be obscured, making navigation more challenging. Even the simplest action as changing light bulbs to a higher wattage can significantly reduce the risks of accidents. Neville suggests using consistent light throughout the house, as ageing eyes cannot adjust as easily to changing brightness. He also suggests installing motion sensitive lights that automatically turn on when sensing movement, removing the risks of falls when moving around at night. Step lights are also useful in signalling changes in platforms. Don’t stay in the dark about how to adjust the home environment to meet the changing needs of an elderly person.

4) Employ a Carer

It is comforting to know that if an accident occurs there is somebody close by. Caring companies such as Guardian Carers provides in-house and out-house support depending on the level of care required, to enable people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia to enjoy an independent life from the comforts of one’s own home. Cares can remind clients about taking medication, eating and bathing, while also assisting with these personal care needs. Neville stresses the importance of experienced cares, where someone like Maria Milagros from Guardian Carers with over 15 years of experience may be the perfect match.

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