If you, or someone you know who has Alzheimer’s disease (AD), lives alone, you may be concerned about safety. In the senior years there is an increased incidence of falls, sudden illnesses (such as a heart attack), and other factors that justify creating an effective plan for safety.
People with AD may have additional safety issues related to memory loss (such as getting lost, losing keys and getting locked out of the house, inability to locate a parked car, leaving burners on the stove and more).
There are other health risks (in addition to safety) for seniors who live alone. In fact, studies have shown that loneliness and social isolation in seniors who live alone can result in an increased mortality (death) rate. Other health risks include an increased likelihood of malnutrition, a higher risk of cognitive decline and depression, an increase risk for falls, poor vision, lower level of physical activity and more.
If you are one of many people with AD who lives alone, you may be interested in some simple safety precautions that can enable you to stay autonomous for as long as possible. Family members of those with AD may also be interested in learning some safety tips for seniors who live alone, including:
-Establish at least one person you will be in contact with each day, if they don’t hear from you, an
alert can go out to ask friends and family to check in.
-Plan an outing at least once a week to minimize isolation.
-Arrange regular phone calls and or Skype sessions with friends & family for social stimulation.
-Volunteer at a church or community center to establish & maintain social contacts.
-Prepare a backup plan for when you are no longer able to drive (employ a driving service, bus, taxi
and ask for help from friends and family members).
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
-AD is a medical condition, help fight the stigma by refusing to be silent about your needs
-Keep an emergency supply kit with extra medications, food, water and other supplies for
emergencies such as electrical outages.
-Get a safety alert button (a waterproof device that can be worn around the wrist) to call 911
when necessary, keep the device on 24/7.
-Make legal, financial, and future living arrangement plans while you can still participate in
decisions for the future.
-Consider safety needs as a priority when deciding on when to initiate a move to a more
structured living environment.
“The misconception is that any acceptance of help is somehow the beginning of a slippery slope into dependence and losing control of your life,” says Barbara Moscowitz, a geriatric social worker at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “We need to reframe what will help us remain independent and accept the tools to help us. Make a choice to enhance your ability to live alone. See assets and positives, not signs of weakness While there are many tools to help you reduce the risks of living alone, implementing them may be easier said than done.”
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