Is the person you care for negotiating the stairs or get in and out of a chair or bed unassisted when it’s no longer safe to do so? Or are they leaving home and getting confused as to their surroundings or worse yet, starting to get lost ? If so, you may need some kind of monitoring device.
For example, a simple motion sensor with a remote alarm can alert you, even when you’re in another room, when the person gets up from the bed. Or a baby monitor may pick up the sounds as they walk across the bedroom. This can give you the time you need to be at their side to offer assistance. Or a monitor on the door can alert you as they attempt to leave home unescorted.
But there are so many devices in the marketplace to choose from that it can be confusing knowing where to start. Continue reading
My husband was recently in the hospital for a fractured hip and underwent a hip replacement. Rehab was not easy for him and getting in and out of bed was challenging to say the least. But the partial upper side rails on the hospital bed really did help; they provided a stable support for him to hold onto when transferring. As we were getting ready for discharge, I spoke to a rep from the durable medical equipment (DME) company about renting a hospital bed for home use. We went over the controls (semi–automatic) and he recommended a gel mattress overlay pad to reduce the chances of pressure sores. However, in my heightened state of stress, I never thought to ask about the bed rails. After all, the DME office was in the hospital and I had just assumed that we would get a bed imilar to the one in my husband’s hospital room. After all, he had been getting instruction from the physical therapist on how to get in and out of the bed using the upper bed rails. You can imagine my shock then when the hospital bed was delivered with full bed rails. Full bed rails? The last thing I needed during this time was another problem to sort out. Continue reading
Did you know that persons with dementia fall up to 3 times more often than individuals without cognitive impairments? In addition to age-related vision and mobility changes, dementia brings its own unique set of challenges that increase fall risk. Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out ways to keep your loved one safe. But don’t give up! There is a lot you can do that can really make a difference.
Here are 4 tips that can help reduce falls: Continue reading
At some point, climbing the stairs to the bedroom on the second floor will become too difficult for your loved one. And using the stairs increases fall risk, especially in the mid to later stages. If you want to help the person continue to live at home, consider converting a den, living room, or and even a dining room into a bedroom. Choose a room that’s not drafty and close to where the action is so the person doesn’t become isolated and can be easily checked on. When moving the person, use the same furniture, if possible, and arrange the room similarly to the person’s previous bedroom. The person may become disoriented and upset by the change so consider sleeping nearby for the first few nights (on a cot or other sleeping option) to help orient the person when waking up in the middle of the night. Continue reading
Due to dementia-related changes in the brain, some loved ones may perceive dark areas on the floor as either a hole or a step. Caregivers have told me about a loved one jumping or attempting to “step” over a a dark floor mat by the door or kitchen sink. Not everyone will experience this, but you need to be aware of the possibility. If you notice the person tentatively walking in these areas, there is a good chance they are having perceptual problems.
“John would stand at the back door and not move. I didn’t know what was going on. Then one day as I was out the door, I told him we needed to get going. He looked at me and said he was afraid of falling into the hole and didn’t think he couldn’t jump over it! Nothing I said made a difference. He really thought the floor had a dark black hole. I replaced the mat with a lighter color that blended in with the floor and the “hole” disappeared.”
Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference.
Jim’s was visiting his mother last winter and walked into a very cold home in northern Wisconsin. His mother had turned off the furnace by mistake and the indoor temperature was 50 degrees. He was shocked that his mother was not even complaining about the cold.
Martha came home one day after work and discovered the bathtub overflowing. Her husband had planned on taking a bath but instead, got distracted by a phone call and then went into the garden to work, with the tub water still running.
One morning, Verone was cooking eggs for breakfast but instead of standing by and watching the food as she cooked, she sat at the kitchen table and fall asleep. Her husband came running into the kitchen after smelling smoke upstairs.
If you have experienced any of the above or are worried that you might in the near future, consider getting auto turn off devices that can stop these situations from ever occurring. Continue reading
Here are six great tips you can use to help the person enjoy their mealtimes with less stress and better communication.
1. Use encouraging, not negative words. Risa, caregiver to her mother, recently told me: “I have no trouble getting my mother to eat, but when my sister is with her, she’s always complaining that mom won’t eat. My sister shouts at her, saying: ‘Sit down, you must eat!’ Needless to say, that doesn’t go over big with our mom. When I’m with her, I say: ‘Look at this delicious food I made especially for you’, and she readily eats.“ Continue reading
Dementia significantly changes how a person interacts with their living space, especially flooring. Although each person will respond differently, perceptual changes heighten fall risk when persons with dementia walk on patterned flooring. Consider these following examples:
Living room patterned carpet. Charles started walking more tentatively on his living room oriental carpet. The multi-colored patterns were now perceived as “things that fell on the carpet”. Sometimes they were “cut up pieces of paper” that needed to be picked up and, at other times, they were obstacles that needed to be walked around. Charles had a stumbling gait to begin with, and walking with distractions or bending over to pick up items that didn’t exist just heightened his fall risk. And he also became more agitated. Continue reading
There may come a time when you feel that it’s no longer safe for the person to use the stove. It’s never easy making this decision and it can be even harder figuring out a kind way to limit the person’s access to the stove. Some caregivers use stove knob covers that are designed to keep children from turning on the stove. But how well do these knob covers work for older adults with memory loss, poor judgment, and low stress thresholds? Continue reading
Many of you write to me requesting more information on stove safety. Usually it’s a scorched pot or two that raises an alarm.
It’s often challenging knowing whether it’s still safe for a person with dementia to cook on their own. A person’s abilities can fluctuate from day-to-day or even within a single day, making it difficult to know when and how to intervene. Often, trial and error is the only way to find out what will work best. Sometimes reminder signs and new cooking technologies can increase safety. Then, it’s all about observing the person as they cook to see if the strategy is still working. Continue reading