By Pamela Atwood, MA, CDP, CLL, Director of Dementia Care Services, Hebrew Health Care
1. Keep your car doors locked. A confused person climbing into your car on a hot/humid day presents more risk than wandering in a snowstorm.
2. Avoid too much sun. People with dementia may not be able to express pain or discomfort. Limit how much time they spend outside in the heat or sitting in direct sun. Also remember sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and light clothing.
3. Ensure adequate hydration. Older adults often limit fluids to avoid multiple trips to the bathroom at night. Push fluids especially in the summer. Provide non-alcoholic beer and other drinks.
4. Keep an eye on pets. Anticipate that people with progressive dementia will have a harder time keeping pets healthy. Remember our furry friends need cool air and water too.
5. Watch out for slippery floors. As kids come in from the pool, wet suits may create a slip-hazard; falls are catastrophic for people with dementia who may not relearn to walk after a fracture.
6. Time for driving retirement? Many people are reluctant to drive in winter weather. With the summer, they may be returning (unsafely) to the road. Knowing how to operate a vehicle does NOT equate safe driving. Call us at 860-920-1810 for information on how to have these difficult conversations.
7. Think of gun safety. As the long winter leaves us, more people are going outside and enjoying their favorite hobbies. Guns and Alzheimer’s are a dangerous combination – 40% of Veterans with mild dementia have loaded guns in their homes according to the VA. Disable guns, remove them or at least secure the ammo.
8. Medication mix-ups. If you utilize professional help, summer vacations often mean replacement staff. Avoid problems with medications, and other care needs, by keeping clear, easily read, and up-to-date lists of medications, allergies, and routines.
9. Getting lost. We all enjoy a nice walk on a cool summer night. Ensure safety by investigating alert programs or GPS devices – call us at 860-920-1810 for our recommendations. If going on outings or to a game, have a buddy so no one walks around alone.
10. Avoid overstimulation. This time of year is when we all love family picnics, parties, BBQs or just going to a park. Too much noise, too many people, too much to think about can increase restlessness and anxiety in people with dementia. Visit www.agingcareacademy.org for caregiver tips and suggestions.