Alzheimers/Dementia: When You Need AT to Prevent Things Happening
Sometimes AT can help by NOT allowing something to be done, enabling a person with dementia to stay in their home longer.
Assistive technology can be used to disable, redirect, or otherwise prevent a person from doing something that may no longer be safe. Starting at $7 and with only one of them over $100, these items may be easy to install and use.
A Door Mural is a large poster with a realistic image of a bookshelf filled with books that adheres to a door to camouflage its existance. The Alzheimers Store sells one that is fire rated, self adhering, and removable.
You may still want to know if the door has been opened, so there are a number of Door Alarm Monitors, with a range of alert sounds, available, for as little ast $21. The Confounding Door Lock has no key but is hard to figure out for the person with dementia. It works on in-swinging doors only and can be installed at the top or bottom, where it's less conspicuous.
If the person with dementia is using a wheelchair, you may need to know if they have risen from a wheelchair, and a number of Motion Detectors are available for this purpose. The Automatic Wheelchair Anti-Rollback locks the wheels whenever the person stands or sits, preventing falls by keeping the chair in place.
Anti-Scalding Devices are small, screw-on units that will turn off the water if the temperature gets too hot. Works on many bathroom and kitchen faucets. Automatic faucet controls make it easier to turn on the faucet but also automatically turn it off, once your hands are not under the faucet.
A Dial-less Telephone prevents middle of the night calls which would allow you to have a phone for incoming calls in the assisted living facility or other supervised location. A version of a dial-less phone, the Hotline, is available that only dials one number when the person lifts the handset. We've even seen picture phones with up to four pictures and no dial. In the US, your state may have a program for free specialized telephones for those with disabilities, such as the California Telephone Access Program.
Plug Locks attach to the plug-in end of the toaster, microwave, fan, or other electrical device preventing someone who does not have the key from plugging them into the wall outlet. This might allow the table saw to stay in the garage. Cabinet locks can keep a particular door shut.
The Automatic Medication Dispenser from MedReady provides access to just the meds that are to be taken at a particular time, up to 4 times per day. It alerts the person when it's time to take their meds (via noise or flashing light) and one version also allows you to remotely moniter if the meds have been taken or not. A caregiver loads the meds once a week. (The FDA has approved the technology behind a pill that can broadcast when it's been swallowed, but that's not on the market just yet.)
KCups seal and have a straw to prevent liquid spills. Bowls or dishes with higher lips may keep food from being pushed off the plate.
A few sources for these products and more are:
For more ideas, here are some books that address the topic:
- The Complete Guide to Alzheimer's Proofing Your Home, by Mark L. Waner.
- Occupational Therapist's Guide to Home Modification Practice, by Elizabeth Ainsworth & Desleigh Delonge