Keeping your home safe is important for everyone, especially seniors. But home safety is especially important when there is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia living there.Assess the situation. Think about the abilities, health and behaviour of the person with dementia. Do they wander at night? Are they capable of using the stairs on their own? Have they fallen before? Changes will need to be made to adapt to their behaviour.
Help prevent dangerous or stressful situations by implementing these home safety tips.
- Clear clutter. Keep walkways clear of items and furniture. Keep knickknacks and decorative items to a minimum.
- Remove any house plants that are toxic if eaten.
- Mark glass furniture, doors and window. Help the person with dementia notice the glass by marking it with a sticker or piece of coloured tape.
- Be very cautious when using fireplaces. Do not leave your loved one alone with a fire going.
- Add a night light.
- Before bedtime, try and take care of any needs that may cause the person with dementia to get out of bed in the middle of the night. Encourage them to have a snack, drink a little water and visit the bathroom, to lessen the chances of them getting up alone in the dark.
- Be careful with heating devices. If they like to use a heating pad or electric blanket, try and keep the controls out of their reach. Do not leave a space heater in their room.
- Consider adding a monitoring device to their room. An inexpensive baby monitor could help you hear if they need help at night.
- Remove any locks from the bathroom door so the person with dementia will not accidentally get locked inside.
- Place non-skid strips or mats in the tub and shower, as well as the floor.
- Install grab bars in the tub, shower and near the toilet.
- Use a foam rubber faucet cover in the bathtub/shower to prevent injury from falls.
- Turn the temperature of your hot water heater down below 49’C to reduce the chance of being accidentally scalded.
- Remove any dangerous appliances (hair dryers, straightening irons, etc) from the bathroom.
- Consider adding childproof latches to cabinets and drawers to keep dangerous items like cleaning products and medications out of reach. Or, remove them from the bathroom entirely.
- Use cabinets with childproof latches to keep detergents, bleach and fabric softener out of reach.
- If the person with dementia is drawn to machinery, remove knobs and buttons from the washer and dryer when not in use.
- Lock up any toxic or dangerous products.
- Keep all vehicles locked.
- If there are cars or bikes in the garage that are not regularly used, consider covering them or moving them elsewhere to reduce risks if your loved one’s dementia has become advanced.
- If the person with dementia uses a computer, consider monitoring their use.
- Keep computers and peripherals out of harm’s way. Backup your important files and photos regularly. If you store valuable documents on your computer, protect your files with passwords.
- Adjust ringer volumes of your cell and home phone to prevent confusion and distraction.
- Consider monitoring your loved one’s use of phones. They may be unable to take a message if they answer calls and they are very susceptible to telephone exploitation.
Home safety products are available in hardware, electronics and medical supply stores. If you need help with making changes to your home to make it safer for a person with Alzheimer’s, seek help from a home safety professional or a home care service provider.