Alzheimer's Disease Causes, Stages, and Symptoms (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Alzheimer's disease facts*
- What is dementia?
- What is Alzheimer's disease?
- Who develops Alzheimer's disease?
- What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
- Ten warning signs of Alzheimer's disease
- What are the causes Alzheimer's disease?
- What are risk factors for Alzheimer's disease?
- How is the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease made?
- What is the prognosis of a person with Alzheimer's disease?
- What treatment and management options are available for Alzheimer's disease?
- Cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs)
- Partial glutamate antagonists
- Non-medication based treatments
- Treatment of psychiatric symptoms
- Potential and future therapies for Alzheimer's disease
- Caring for the caregiver and Alzheimer's disease resources
- National Institute on Aging home safety for people with Alzheimer's disease
- General safety concerns for persons with Alzheimer's disease
- Is it safe to leave the person with Alzheimer's disease alone?
- Home safety room-by-room
- Home safety behavior-by-behavior
- Special occasions/gatherings/holidays
- Impairment of the senses
- Natural disaster safety
- Who would take care of the person with Alzheimer's disease if something happened to you?
- Additional resources
- Alzheimer's Disease FAQs
- Find a local Geriatrician in your town
General Safety Concerns
People with Alzheimer's disease become increasingly unable to take care of themselves. However, the disease progresses differently in each person. As a caregiver, you face the ongoing challenge of adapting to each change in the person's behavior and functioning. The following general principles may be helpful.
- Think prevention. It is very difficult to predict what a person with Alzheimer's might do. Just because something has not yet occurred does not mean it should not be cause for concern. Even with the best-laid plans, accidents can happen. Therefore, checking the safety of your home will help you take control of some of the potential problems that may create hazardous situations.
- Adapt the environment. It is more effective to change the environment than to change most behaviors. While some Alzheimer's behaviors can be managed with special medications prescribed by a doctor, many cannot. You can make changes in an environment to decrease the hazards and stressors that accompany these behavioral and functional changes.
- Minimize danger. By minimizing danger, you can maximize independence. A safe environment can be a less restrictive environment where the person with Alzheimer's disease can experience increased security and more mobility.
Is it Safe to Leave the Person With Alzheimer's disease Alone?
This issue needs careful evaluation and is certainly a safety concern. The following points may help you decide.
Does the person with Alzheimer's:
- become confused or unpredictable under stress?
- recognize a dangerous situation, for example, fire?
- know how to use the telephone in an emergency?
- know how to get help?
- stay content within the home?
- wander and become disoriented?
- show signs of agitation, depression, or withdrawal when left alone for any period of time?
- attempt to pursue former interests or hobbies that might now warrant supervision, such as cooking, appliance repair, or woodworking?
You may want to seek input and advice from a health care professional to assist you in these considerations. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, these questions will need ongoing evaluation.
Next: Home safety room-by-room
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