Caring for someone with Huntington’s disease means being aware of safety concerns in the home. There are lots of little steps you can take to remove hazards and make your home easier to live in and safer.
Start by thinking about the habits and routines of the person with HD when you review this list of general safety precautions.
Avoid rugs that can move around because they can easily trip someone. Use rugs with a slip-resistant backing – they may come this way, or you can apply adhesive carpet tape or rubber matting to the back. Short pile carpets are easier to walk on than deep pile carpets for people with stability and walking problems.
Check to make sure working smoke detectors are in each bedroom. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and have a second one located in another part of your home. Make sure all cords are in good condition and not frayed or cracked. Make sure your outlets are in good working order and there is no visible wiring. If the person with HD smokes, make sure they never smoke in bed, the area where they smoke doesn’t have flammable objects such as magazines, dried flowers, or leaves and wood, and have large, stable ashtrays available in their preferred smoking area.
Keep cords away from areas where people walk through. Try to keep cords close to the walls or use wireless devices.
Bumping and Bruising Prevention
Adopt a minimalist style when it comes to furniture. Arrange your furniture to allow for easily moving around it and holding on to the back of it to aid stability. Strong, stable furniture with soft, padded edges is the safest. Plenty of light will also make it easier to get around.
A person with HD may feel depressed, angry, be uncoordinated, have poor judgement and act impulsively. Any one of these factors could be dangerous and when combined with a weapon, they could be deadly. Guns should not be in the house. If they are in the house, they should be kept unloaded and in a locked cabinet. Ammunition should be kept locked in a fireproof safe. Keep the keys away from home. Locking sharp objects such as knives, tools, scissors, and other potential weapons is also recommended.
Kitchens and bathrooms are common areas for accidents to occur. Here are a few tips to make them safer:
- Supervising someone with HD in the kitchen and in the shower when appropriate
- Keeping medicines and hazardous chemicals such as cleaners in locked cabinets
- Using plastic plates, cups, and cutlery
- Removing knobs from the stove
- Using grab bars near the toilet and in the shower
- Placing non-slip materials on the bathroom floor and in the shower
- Setting the water heater to “low” or 120 degrees