Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aging and home safety issues: NIH has a paper

The National Institute on Aging, and Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center has a useful booklet and web page (link) “Home Safety for People with Alzheimer’s Disease.” The paper takes up, with a great deal of flexibility, critical questions like leaving people alone (at least for shorter periods of time) and driving. The paper seems to be a list of voluntary suggestions, not law or administrative policy.

One of the issues will be practicality. In a given home, some suggestions cost much less and probably address a much greater practical risk. These include providing locked medicine cabinets, installing grab bars in bathrooms, using shower seats and extended nozzles, locking away firearms, prohibiting cigarette smoking (if possible), and maintaining smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If a family member has a hobby area with tools or electronics, it may be a good idea to keep the area locked. If an area of the house is locked when the user is away, it’s a good idea to go the extra mile with electrical safety, including inspecting or replacing outlets or fixtures in old homes, and periodically (like once a year) replacing surge protectors in homes known to have frequent power surges. The instructions also discuss the possibility that the person with AD uses a computer, and should be protected by Internet filters. But a hobbyist will want to make sure that he or she or another responsible person is present when his equipment is used.

There are other private references on this subject, such as this.

Picture: Baltimore harbor (Nov 2009, mine, unrelated).

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