Dementia at Home: How to Secure Your Residence to Ensure the Safety of Loved Ones
“Home is where the heart is” is a soothing phrase, filled with memories of well-lived lives. With attention to important safety and security details, a much-loved residence can continue to be a comfortable home for people with dementia.
Here are six key points to help ensure your loved one’s home is safe and organized.
1. A “fresh look” approach
When you assess the safety of a loved one’s home, take the point of view that you have entered it for the first time.
Is that worn-out floormat a tripping hazard?
Could the hallway use a brighter lightbulb?
Are pill bottles mixed with condiment containers on the kitchen table?
Come up with a safety-first list that identifies possible challenges. Focus on improvements to increase the security of your loved one’s day-to-day routines.
2. Secure zones
As much as possible, centralize dangerous materials and tools.
Have an indoor secure spot, for instance, a multi-shelved cabinet with child-safety locks for storing cleaning products, batteries, medications, and small electrical appliances like hair clippers.
Create an exterior secure spot as well, such as a locker in a garage or shed. Keep poisonous fluids like pesticides and paint thinner here, along with gardening tools such as hedge clippers and lawnmowers.
3. Kitchen and bathroom
These two rooms need careful consideration in the home of someone with dementia.
Kitchens present fire-related challenges, so install a hard-to-access gas valve or circuit breaker for the stove and consider removing its knobs.
Place the microwave oven out of reach: dementia patients can forget that metal pans and some plastic containers should never be used in a microwave oven.
Bathrooms have water-related hazards. Prevent slipping with the installation of a walk-in shower.
Add grab bars in a shower or tub for extra stability and replace decorative rugs with rubber-backed, washable bathmats.
4. Sensory challenges
People with dementia may have trouble with things like water temperature and spatial perception.
Keep the hot water heater thermostat at no higher than 120º F (49º C) to prevent the risk of scalding in the bath or shower.
Ensure safe movement for loved ones, particularly if they use a walker or wheelchair. Keep travel areas free of clutter, with wide doorways and even ramps to assist navigation.
Add bright edges with paint or tape to steps and stairs to help define edges. For outdoors, add texture elements to steps to prevent slip-related accidents.
Indoors, keep rooms and hallways well lit. Add night lights, particularly in bedrooms and bathrooms, to ease late-night disorientation.
Wandering is a serious issue for loved ones with dementia. Small changes around the house can minimize the risks.
Have working locks on all windows and doors that lead outside. Install deadbolts on the upper part of an exit door to make it harder to leave.
Keep a spare set of house keys in a secure outdoor area in case someone locks you out.
Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors so you can easily access these rooms.
Yards should be fenced with locked gates, particularly if your loved one likes to go outdoors.
A few steps and checks can help you respond when the unexpected occurs.
Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses for local police and fire departments, hospitals, and poison control helplines.
Have a phone list of friends and neighbors who know, or can recognize, your loved one in case they go missing. Include phone numbers of favorite places like a local coffee shop.
Make sure safety devices work properly. Schedule regular upkeep and testing of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.
At iTraq, we’re committed to helping families safeguard the people and belongings they love with our unique GPS+cellular+WiFi global location tracking device.