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What to look for?

Unsafe Actions | Common Signs

  • Does not turn burners off after cooking
  • Leaves food unattended in oven to burn or on stove to boil dry
  • Places metal items in microwaves or toaster
  • Is careless with knives, scissors and other sharp objects
  • Is inattentive while driving (e.g. doesn't notice pedestrians, oncoming vehicles)
  • Does not obey traffic signs or rules while driving
  • Does not lock doors and/or windows at night, or when alone
  • Invites strangers into the house
  • Eats or serves food that is spoiled or rotten
  • Is careless with cigarettes (e.g. lets ashes fall on floor or furniture, leaves lit cigarettes on furniture)
  • Cannot complete repairs safely (e.g. forgets to unplug electrical appliances before repairing)
  • Mismanages medications (e.g. takes too many or too few pills)
Unsafe Actions | General Description

People behave unsafely when their judgment is poor. Poor judgment is a hallmark of dementia of any cause, including Alzheimer's disease . Safety is also a tricky issue because the extent to which people accept risk varies. What one person views as very unsafe and completely unacceptable might be viewed differently by other people. There is no right or wrong in this, but it is extremely important that those who are involved communicate. They need to communicate not just their concerns but how they can contribute to solutions.
Situations that put the person you care for at risk for harm must either be managed successfully or eliminated. The person you care for may need supervision or assistance when in the kitchen. They may leave burners on after cooking or act carelessly with scissors or knives, due to their memory loss and shortening attention span. Many tasks involved in personal grooming are also difficult for the person to complete without harm. Using an electric razor, or bathing without falling are important safety concerns. Problems in maintaining attention can also lead to issues if the person you care for is attempting to drive. Inattentiveness while driving can pose a danger to themselves as well as pedestrians and those in other vehicles. It may be risky for the person you care for to attempt to leave the house unsupervised because of their poor judgment and ability to become disoriented. For example, they could leave the front door open, accept a ride from a stranger or become lost and not be able to find their way home.

When judgment is impaired and the person has difficulty recognizing consequences of behaviour, the space for unsafe actions is created. Many people with Frontotemporal dementia will lack an appreciation for threats to safety and find themselves talking to strangers or inviting strangers into their home.

It is at this time that the person with Frontotemporal dementia may have run ins with the law for things like shoplifting. The person may know perfectly well that they have been shopping, but fail to see why they should be expected to pay for it. In other instances the person may exhibit sexual behaviour in public.

The first step in taking a more active role in symptom management is understanding how a symptom is affecting everyday life; the next step is communicating this knowledge to the care planning team and family members. SymptomGuideTM is designed with these goals in mind.

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See Also:
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Meal Preparation/Cooking
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Attention/Concentration (lack of)
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Judgment
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Decision Making
Symptom Library > Physical Changes > Sensory Input
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Attention/Concentration (lack of)
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Personal Care/Hygiene
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Driving
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Bathing
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Wandering
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Independence
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Last updated January 15, 2019
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