Alzheimer’s Association Summer Safety Tips
The pleasures of summer include longer, warmer and sunnier days, celebrations with family and friends, and backyard BBQs. For the person caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, summer can also bring with it additional safety challenges. By taking a few minutes to review the following safety tips, families can enjoy a fulfilling and pleasant summertime together.
Sunshine and Warm Weather
- Limit your loved one’s exposure to the sun. Place lawn chairs in shaded areas. Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Encourage your loved one to wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Apply and reapply sunscreen when outside for long periods of time. Spray kind is easier.
- Provide lots of fluids. Keep a cool glass of water within arm’s reach as a reminder. Add a flavor to the water to make it tasty. Provide non-alcoholic beer or lemonade for backyard BBQs.
- Decision making may be increasingly difficult so dressing appropriately for hot days can be hard. Put away winter clothes, boots, gloves and hats, and replace them with just one or two choices of shirts, pants or shorts/skirts, a hat with a large brim and a light jacket or sweater.
- Enroll in or if necessary, update information with the Medic Alert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® or Comfort Zone® to reduce the risk of wandering.
Loud noises and crowds can increase anxiety. Consider watching fireworks from your home or in the quiet of the car and parades on television; picnic on a weekday or early in the day.
Never allow unsupervised access to fire pits, and the hot surfaces of BBQ grills or campfires.
Attending ballgames may be something your loved one has always enjoyed. However, large crowds can be overwhelming for the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Identify a “buddy” to stay with him/her, accompany your loved one to the restroom and the concession stand, and have the “buddy” stay with them at all times. Watch for signs of discomfort or confusion.
Do not allow an individual with Alzheimer’s disease to swim unsupervised, and do not leave children in the pool under the supervision of the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
If your loved one still enjoys bicycling, consider accompanying him on the ride or ask a trusted companion to accompany him. Encourage your loved one to wear a helmet and to ride on trails designated for pedestrians and cyclists. Or look into spin classes at the local recreation center.
Keep an eye on sharp gardening shears or tools and closely monitor their use. Use fertilizers that are not harmful if swallowed accidentally and ensure that the plants are not poisonous. Keep a box full of tools so your loved one can easily find it and everything is in one place.
Family reunions can be overwhelming to the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Consider limiting the number of visitors and prepare both family members and the person with Alzheimer’s disease in advance for the visit. Try using fun name tags for everyone to reduce embarrassment for the person struggling with names. Have a back-up plan that will allow for a quiet place to rest if things become overwhelming or confusing.
Many families plan vacations and trips during the summer. New and unfamiliar places can be confusing for the person with Alzheimer’s disease. It may also provide clarity for the family that there is in fact an issue with symptoms of dementia that earlier were undetected. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association upon your return if you are concerned about symptoms you may have noticed once away from home. Consider simplifying travel plans or traveling to a familiar destination. Check with airlines for companion programs for those traveling with special needs. Make sure your loved one can arrive safely or make connections without a problem. Alert the Medic Alert + Safe Return registration phone line of travel plans and provide contact information for your destination. Change the perimeters set for Comfort Zone to accommodate your travel destination as a way to monitor someone with dementia once you arrive for your vacation.
Important Contact Information
- Alzheimer’s Association 24-Hour Helpline – 1-800-272-3900
- Medic Alert + Safe Return Enrollment Line – 1-888-572-8566
- Medic Alert + Safe Return Incident/Emergency Line – 1-800-625-3780
- Comfort Zone – 1-877-259-4850