People with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have an increasingly difficult time looking out for their own wellbeing. So it goes without saying that, when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, safety becomes a primary concern. By following some general home-safety guidelines, you can help avert accidents and minimize danger at home.
Start from the ground up
It’s common for people with dementia to experience changes in balance that might result in tripping or having trouble walking. Try to keep floors free of clutter and hazards such as boxes, bags, toys, and cords. Place any heavy-pile rugs where they won’t cause a stumble, and watch out for rugs that slide easily on floors.
Also, take care when cleaning uncarpeted areas, such as tiled kitchen and bathroom floors, to prevent your loved-one from slipping on wet surfaces.
When struggling to maneuver, seniors sometimes steady themselves by holding or leaning onto furniture. Replace unstable tables and chairs in higher traffic areas with furniture pieces that are heavy enough to provide support.
Don’t leave danger lying around
Alzheimer’s robs people of all kinds of memories—including memories about what can be harmful. Just as you would childproof a home where youngsters live or visit, you should take similar precautions to protect someone with dementia.
Storing prescription and over-the-counter medications in locked drawers or cabinets helps prevent dosage mistakes. It’s also a good idea to hide cleaning products, knives and sharp tools, firearms, alcohol, and matches. Consider installing childproof latches on closet, pantry, and cabinet doors.
Small appliances should be removed from bathrooms to reduce the risk of electrical shock. In the kitchen, take the knobs off stoves and ovens when you’re not around, and regularly check the expiration dates for food in refrigerators and cupboards.
When you can’t be there…
Whenever possible, avoid leaving someone with Alzheimer’s alone where mishaps could happen. A hot range top, running bath water, burning candles, and lit tobacco products are all potential risks for accidents. If you must leave your loved one unattended, always turn off stoves and water first.
To discourage someone with dementia from wandering away, be certain to keep outside doors closed and gates latched. Keep doors leading to basement and attic stairs locked to prevent falls.
Striking a balance
As a caregiver, your challenge is finding balance between a loved one’s personal autonomy and overall safety. By taking steps to maintain a safe environment at home, you ensure a place where a person with Alzheimer’s disease feels unrestricted and secure.
Keeping Home Safe. Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.