Home Safety for People With Huntington's Disease
If you are caring for a person with Huntington's disease , bealert to special safety concerns in the home. Certainmanifestations of the disease can leave the person more at risk forfalls and other accidents. For example, the person may be unsteadyon his feet and fall down the stairs. Poor coordination maylead to tripping on a rug. Guns and other potential weapons in thehouse are also hazardous, especially when someone in the house isprone to emotional upsets, loss of judgment, or delusions. Safety hazards in the home are not always apparent. For thisreason, your first step should be to do an assessment of the wholehouse, keeping in mind the habits and routines of thepatient. Ask yourself what could be a potential hazard.
General Safety Precautions
CordsLamp, extension, and telephone cords should be away from the flowof traffic. Cords should not be beneath furniture, rugs orcarpeting where they could cause a fire. They should be in goodcondition, not frayed or cracked.
Rugs, Mats, and RunnersThrow rugs are easy to trip over and should be avoided. Allother rugs, mats, and runners should be slip-resistant. They can bepurchased slip-resistant, or you can apply adhesive carpet tape orrubber matting to the backs of them. Check slip-resistant rugsperiodically since they can lose their adhesiveness over time.Short pile carpets are easier than deep pile carpets for people whohave walking problems.
Smoke Detectors and Fire ExtinguishersEach month, make sure all smoke detectors work and are near allbedrooms. Smoke detectors should be on the ceiling or 6-12 inchesbelow the ceiling on the wall. Fire extinguishers should be placedin several locations, the most important being the kitchen. Makesure all outlets and switches have cover plates and that no wiringis exposed.
SmokingIf the person with Huntington's disease smokes , remember that itmay be one of his few pleasures. Taking cigarettesaway could cause agitation and extreme emotional upset. Instead,consider the following tips to keep smoking from becoming such afire hazard in the home:
- Do not allow smoking in bed, which should be a rule for allmembers of the household.
- Look at the places where the person tends to smoke. Removeanything that could catch fire easily, such as newspapers,magazines, boxes, dried flowers, or leaves.
- Make sure that the floor and furniture are flame-resistant.
- If your loved one smokes outside, make sure it is in a low-risk area, awayfrom dried wood, leaves, flowers, or flammable chemicals.
- Use ashtrays that are large, stable, and fireproof. Make surethe ashtrays are placed in an area where they cannot be easily knocked ontothe floor. An ashtray attached to a floor stand might be a betteralternative.
- Cigarette holders can help the person hold the cigarettewithout it burning down to their fingertips.