Alzheimer’s: Safety at Home
Depending on the stage of the disease, provided that safety measures are in place, an individual with dementia can live in the comfort of his or her own home or a caregiver’s home.
As the disease progresses, the person’s abilities will change. But, with some creativity, flexibility and problem solving, it’s not difficult to adapt the home to support these changes.
Evaluate your Environment
A person with dementia may be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors. Pay special attention to garages, work rooms, basements and outside areas.
Beware of Dangerous Objects and Substances
Even the most basic appliance or household object can become dangerous. Take precautions to help ensure these items do not become safety hazards.
- Use appliances that have an auto shut-off Keep them away from water sources (e.g., kitchen and bathroom sinks).
- Install a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker on the stove so a person with dementia cannot turn it on. Or, consider removing knobs from burners.
- Store grills, lawn mowers, power tools, knives and cleaning products in a secure place.
- Discard toxic plants and decorative fruits that may be mistaken for real food.
- Remove vitamins, prescription drugs, sugar substitutes and seasonings from kitchen tables and counters. Medications should be kept in a locked area at all times.
- Supervise the use of tobacco and alcohol. Both may have harmful side effects and may interact dangerously with some medications.
If you have a firearm in the house, there are special precautions you will need to take:
- Keep firearms in a locked cabinet, firearm vault, safe or storage case, or remove them from the living space.
- Lock ammunition in a separate place.
- Exercise full control and supervision.
- Keep firearms unloaded when not in use.
- Ask for help from local law enforcement if you are unfamiliar with firearm safety or if you choose to discard a weapon.
Avoid Injury During Daily Activities
Most accidents occur in the home during daily activities such as eating, bathing and using the restroom. Take special precautions at t hese times.
- Check the temperature of water and food – it may be difficult to tell the difference between hot and cold.
- Install walk-in showers and grab bars in the shower or tub and at the edge of the vanity to allow for independent, safe, movement.
- Add textured stickers to slippery surfaces. Apply adhesives to keep throw rugs and carpeting in place, or remove rugs completely
Adapt to Vision Limitations
Dementia sometimes makes it difficult for a person to decipher between colors and understand what he or she sees because of changes in vision.
- Changes in levels of light can be disorienting. Create an even level of lighting by adding extra lights in entries, outside landings, and areas between rooms, stairways and bathrooms.
- Use night lights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
Tags: Alzheimer’s, Safety, Injury Prevention, Dementia, Home Safety