Navigating Alzheimer’s is challenging and uncertain for both the person living with the effects of the disease, as well as the family members, friends and caregivers. Alzheimer’s affects both physical and mental abilities, making safety and security the number one concern for everyone involved. Constantly worry for their loved one or those in their care is mentally and physically exhausting, while those experiencing the effects may not realize they’re putting their own life at risk. Will the oven get left on? Will they wander out of the home into a busy street? Do they tend to forget things that used to come second nature? If these questions are starting to surface, it might be time to start looking for and understanding the signs and symptoms of dementia.
As a family member or caregiver of someone living with Alzheimer’s, this first step of arming yourself with the most information possible, and even joining a support group, can go a long way to providing some peace of mind and sense of “next steps”. If you yourself are starting to recognize that things might be “slipping a little”, and are concerned with your own safety, there is never any shame in speaking with your family, friend, or caregiver about what lies down the road.
While moving into a residence right away isn’t always possible or the best course of action immediately, there are ways to stay living in a familiar and comfortable place safely.
Ways to Live Safely with Alzheimer’s
1. One way to instill a sense of structure is by creating a daily routine. We’ve rounded up our favourite 10 daily habits for every senior here, along with the multiple overall health benefits having a regular daily routine can have on the mind, body and spirit.
2. Make it social: Leave a set of keys with a neighbour or trusted friend who can easily—and quickly!—access the home. Consider setting regular check-in phone calls as well where family and friends rotate calling (or even visiting) once a day. This human connection also helps immensely with the anxiety associated with Alzheimer’s.
3. See our tips for seniors living with dementia for ways to adapt the living space that increases safety measures while minimizing chances of accidents. These can include things like automatic shut-off appliances, removing clutter, updating footwear to be grippy and easy on-off, and installing more railings.
4. Consider meal programs that are delivered regularly to ensure a healthy diet is maintained.
5. The Alzheimer’s Society’s “All About Me” booklet is a great tool for those living with dementia to fill out and use regularly. It tells the person, in their own words, all about their routines, likes, dislikes, important contact information, and more.
Live in Ontario? You can also check out the Finding Your Way program that aims to build safe communities by help reducing the risk of those living with dementia going missing.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada is another resource for a plethora of information about the types of help, support, and research out there. We are also always available at Verve Senior Living to discuss Living Options, with residences across Canada that offer kind and compassionate Memory Care tailored to the individual.