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Transcript: "Home Safety and Wandering"

Cynthia D. Steele, RN, MPH
Johns Hopkins University Alzheimer's
Disease Center:

A safe environment is very important in proper care of someone with Alzheimer's disease. You need to make sure your home is free of clutter that might be confusing to someone who is already having difficulty understanding the world around them. Make sure medications are secure so the patient doesn't have access to them. Make sure power tools are locked up or disabled, and things like toasters and irons need to have automatic shut-offs as well. Before a person might wander out, you want to make sure you have locks on the door that are difficult for them to open or that have chimes on them, so that you, the caregiver, will know when they're attempting to leave because it's hard to predict when that'll happen.

It's important, early on in the illness, to think about what you'll do if someone with Alzheimer's disease in your care wanders away. First of all, keep a recent photograph of them so you can show persons who might search for them. Second, there are several very effective programs where you can get identification bracelets that will list their name, your information, how to contact you. Two main programs: one is MedicAlert, which most of you are probably familiar with. And the other is Safe Return, run by the Alzheimer's Association. First you should do is think about where they might go but don't delay. Call for help as soon as you really are concerned someone's wandered away.

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