Minutes of Caregivers' Meeting

Topic: Safety Measures for Dementia Patients at Home
Facilitator: Ms Bala Tripura Sundari (Joint Secretary, ARDSI)
Date: 12th October, 2013
Place: ARDSI Activity Centre, Plot No-451, Road No-86, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Time: 12-2pm

  • The meeting commenced at 12pm and was attended by 25 people constituting caregivers, volunteers and ARDSI and Memory Clinic staff.
  • Ms.Bala began the talk with stressing on the importance of safety measures for dementia patients and what safety meant for them.
  • She spoke about the different technological means of ensuring safety like safety locks on the door to prevent wandering, GPRS devices to detect the whereabouts of a missing patient and medicine alarms to remind the patient to take their medications.
  • In her talk, Ms Bala spoke of the various aspects of hygiene and personal care like grooming, toileting, bathing, dressing, feeding in which areas the patient may forget how to keep personal care and may need help.
  • She elaborated on some measures such as –
    -  2-hr bathroom visits
    - Using aids such as stools or chairs and grab-bars in bathrooms and toilets while bathing to avoid slipping
    - Using signages to indicate bathrooms
    - Minimalizing items in bathrooms to avoid clutter
    - Single and light-coloured tiling in houses and bathrooms for the patient’s convenience.
    - Checking water temperature to suit the patient’s comfort
    - Usage of non-skid floors

    - Usage of Velcro on clothes instead of buttons and hooks
    - Loose fitting clothes
    - Ensuring the patient had access to warm clothes in winter and loose cottons clothes in summer

    - Sit in front while feeding
    - Using vinyl-coated spoons
    - Feeding at the rate of patient’s convenience
    - Checking for pocketing of food
    - Intermediate sips of water after bites of food
    - Note signs of aspiration
  • Ms Bala went on to explain different modifications for rooms such as adding railings to beds, night lights, removing rugs and carpets to avoid slipping, unplugging electrical appliances and hiding away sharp objects.
  • The facilitator further stressed on how one should be prepared for emergencies by keeping a medical kit ready at all times constituting all the necessary items required in case of any household accidents and keying in the numbers of important people on the mobile for urgent calls.
  • She then went on to speak of outdoor safety measures such as ensuring that the patient always carries an ID card, making the patient wear bright clothes so they are recognisable, accompanying them when they went out, restrict them from driving 2-wheelers or 4-wheelers, informing trustworthy people around about their condition, trying to journey by day instead of by night, ensuring that one’s house is visible and recognisable by having clear doorways, name signs outside.
  • Ms.Bala ended the session with a brief Q&A session where the caregivers and volunteers discussed how important it was to adapt to the patient’s needs at all points in time. Ms Bala stressed on how it was important to follow all bookish information about dementia only as a general guide, and improvise as and when necessary depending on the patient’s individual symptoms.