Confusion and mobility issues are associated with Alzheimer disease and the aging process. In combination, caregivers would benefit from paying special attention to safety issues that may arise in the home. Since every home is different, safety concerns need to be tailored accordingly.
Firstly, as people age, better lighting is in order. Pay attention to lighting in areas that may present particular risks, such as the stairs or dimly lit corridors. It is also helpful for lighting to be bright in the dining area to encourage eating.
To reduce the risk of falls, look for frayed carpets, curled edges, or loose floor tiles. If this is the case, simply tape them down. Highly polished floors might present problems and can also cause falls. Shoes with rubber soles may help avoid slipping. It may also be prudent to reduce the amount of clutter in the home. It is best to simplify the environment as much as possible. Low furniture should be avoided since it may be difficult for the person to stand from a seated position and can increase the risk of falling.
Appliances and home safety
Try to be vigilant that corded appliances don't hang over surfaces as they may look like a good place to grab hold if the person feels a bit unsteady. Kettles and stoves should have automatic cut-off switches in case the person puts on the kettle or stove and then forgets it. You can contact your local CLSC for information on where to buy these items, contact your local Alzheimer Association, or consider this link. They have wonderful products to enhance safety in the home. The Alzheimer Store http://store.nexternal.com/ageless/safety-c2.aspx If Alzheimer's is in an advanced stage you may need to consider additional precautions such as exchanging gas fires for timed electric convector heaters. Electrical appliances and tools may need to be secured if it becomes clear these represent a danger. http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/homesafety.htm
Security and home safety
Your local Alzheimer's support group may be able to offer advice on a variety of issues including home security. If wandering becomes a problem you may need to use door locks at certain times of the day or night. Secure any loose rails. If you can, involve the neighbours or at least alert them to your situation. Good neighbours can be a real asset if strangers come to the door or if anything unusual occurs.
Health and home safety
As Alzheimer's and aging are associated, issues of mobility have to be considered in fairly broad terms. However, in terms of safety in the home you may need to consider fitting bath or shower rails, or maybe installing internal door locks that can be opened from both sides of the door in case of an emergency. Thermostatic temperature regulators are a good idea for the shower or bath. Your local CLSC can engage an Occupational therapist to do a home evaluation.
This list is by no means exhaustive but it may contain a few ideas that you may have not previously considered. Since you know your family member the best, you will most certainly have your own ideas. The general thought is not to turn your home into a high level security zone, but to take sensible precautions. Just a little regular vigilance is required. Subtle changes may be all that is needed.