June 13, 2023

How Do You Keep Loved Ones with Memory Loss Safe?

Whether at home or in a traditional assisted living residence, it’s always difficult for families to determine if a loved one needs additional support. Sometimes the signs are clear-cut, but often, they are merely attributed to “getting older” and being forgetful. It’s important, therefore, to address all safety issues that may result from memory loss since the biggest challenge for families and caregivers is keeping a loved one safe.

“We continually strive to ensure that a safe, clean, and comfortable environment exists for everyone who lives, works, or visits our facilities,” explained Jeffrey Lind, Director of Facilities Engineering at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “It is the number one priority for the engineering and maintenance department.”

As June is National Safety Month, it seems timely to explore the safety issues facing many of our seniors and families who may have loved ones with memory loss. The first step, and often the hardest one, is to recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate that something may be wrong.

Common Signs of Memory Loss:

  • Wandering
    Adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease often feel compelled to walk about. They have no real place to go, and they often do not realize what direction they are heading. They just feel the need to move and walk somewhat aimlessly. This behavior is often called “wandering” by clinicians, researchers, and caregivers
  • Memory Problems
    Often seniors are unable to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago, an acquaintance, events or have difficulty finding words.
  • Disorientation
    A person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place or feel confused about where they are, or think they are back in some past time of their life.
  • Personality and Behavior Changes
    Individuals with memory loss may get upset, worried, and angry much more easily than before. Staying engaged with art and music activities helps individuals communicate and express themselves.

Preventative Safety Measures for Memory Support Residents

Assisted living and nursing homes with memory support focus on keeping their residents safe, active, and happy. At Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, the staff are highly trained to make sure residents remain safe at all times. Lind noted that the organization makes use of all local resources, “In addition to on-site training, we have partnered with MassMAP (Massachusetts Mutual Aid Plan,” said Jeff. “This ensures that we have the resources and manpower available to cover any potential issue that might arise at any day/hour.”

Below are areas of concern for memory care residents and some of the preventative steps we take on our campus:

  • Falls are a common and serious safety concern in assisted living facilities and nursing homes as they can lead to serious injuries and among elders. As over half the falls take place in one’s apartment or room, it is important to reduce clutter, avoid overcrowding with furniture, and make sure the resident is wearing supportive footwear with no-slip soles.
  • Emergency preparedness is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety of residents in assisted living facilities. Staff are trained regularly on procedures and protocols for emergency situations such as severe weather, fire, power outages and more.
  • Dementia care safety includes grab bars in bathrooms, rugs tacked down to prevent falls, wide corridors, call buttons and high staff to resident ratio
  • Regular safety inspections of the assisted living
  • Floors and surfaces kept clutter free
  • Door and window alarms
  • 24-hour supervision

Seek Professional Guidance

Even after recognizing the signs of memory loss, it is challenging to decide on the best living situation for loved ones. Our professional team can help guide you and offer resources. Call Terry Halliday at 978-854-1825 or email thalliday@legacylifecare.org. Meeting staff members, touring properties and/or talking with other families facing similar situations can be extremely helpful.