Summer is upon us and as the weather warms up, families increase their activity both indoors and out. If you are a family facing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you don’t have to stop participating in meaningful summer activities — but you should plan ahead to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone.
June is National Safety Month and for families living with Alzheimer’s, the need for a comprehensive safety plan is essential. Even in the early stage of the disease, a person’s needs and abilities will change, including the ability to stay safe. Friends, family members and caregivers can help by planning ahead for potential risks and taking proactive steps to avoid unnecessary injury.
Take these steps to help you prepare for summer:
- Create a plan to meet your needs. Families who are unsure of potential safety issues should visit the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s NavigatorTM, an interactive online tool that asks a series of questions in order to deliver a customized action plan. Visit alz.org/alzheimersnavigator to learn more.
- Evaluate your environment. Identify possible areas of danger in the home or outdoors that could cause injury to the person living with the disease. For instance, a frequent symptom of dementia is difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships, making it easier for the person with the disease to fall or trip. Remove rugs and place loose objects on shelves to eliminate them as a potential hazard.
- Reduce the risk of wandering. Anyone who has memory problems is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stage of dementia, a person can become disoriented in a familiar place. Enroll the person with dementia in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.
You may also want to consider Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone®, a Web-based service powered by Omnilink that allows family members to monitor a person’s location while the individual with Alzheimer’s maintains their independence. To learn more about these services, visit alz.org/safetycenter.
Simple adjustments and precautions to improve safety can prevent injuries, help a person with dementia feel more relaxed and maintain his or her independence longer. For more tips on safety, including disaster preparedness and traveling, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Safety Center at alz.org/safetycenter or call 800.272.3900 to find the Alzheimer’s Association chapter nearest to you.