28 Mar Home Safety for Loved Ones with Dementia
As we all age, it is important our homes are free from hazards which can trigger a fall or accident. However, for an elderly spouse or parent with dementia it is essential to go even further in providing a well-protected environment since these afflicted loved ones lose the mental capacity for judgment, thinking, and decision-making skills. In addition, dementia increases a person’s anxiety, which often causes decisions to be made out of fear.
The National Institutes of Health notes falls are the leading cause of injury and death for people over 65 with dementia. Furthermore, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (or another form of dementia) will wander away from the home. Unfortunately, if people who wander are not found within 24 hours, up to half of them will suffer serious injury or death
Follow these tips to help ensure your loved remains as safe as possible:
- Arrange furniture simply and consistently.
- Keep the home uncluttered.
- Remove area rugs.
- Tape or seal carpet edges that may be a trip hazard.
- Install grab bars in hallways.
- Add extra lighting in all rooms and hallways.
- Use night lights in the bedroom.
- Install a sensor pad and alarm on bed and chair to notify you when a loved one exits.
- Use a door alarm to alert you if someone leaves the home.
- Dementia patients should not wear loose clothing which can be a trip hazard.
- Someone with dementia should not wear rings and other small pieces of jewelry (may be placed in mouth).
- Remove knobs from the stove.
- Hide sharp objects and knives.
- Keep foods which can be a choking hazard (bagels, whole grapes, nuts/seeds, large pieces of meat) out of reach.
- Remove decorative fruit or other objects which can be mistaken for food.
- Put spices and other condiments out of sight.
- Keep all medications behind a locked cabinet.
- Make sure all smoke detectors have fresh batteries and are in working order.
- Keep a working fire extinguisher nearby.
- Secure all cleaning products (bleach, detergents, and dishwashing liquid).
- Install grab bars in the bathtub/shower and non-slip adhesive strips on the bathtub/shower floor.
- Remove all area rugs except for one non-skid bath mat outside the bathtub/shower.
- Install a grab bar next to the toilet.
- Do not allow your loved one to change clothes in the bathroom to avoid a fall on a hard surface.
- Lower the temperature on the water heater.
In general, evaluate the safety level of your home for a dementia patient as you would for a toddler or young child. However, unlike a child whose mental capacity and reasoning grows every day, a person with dementia will progress further into the disease. As this happens, seek an evaluation by a physician or Certified Senior Advisor to determine if your loved one is safe to continue living in the home. Memory care facilities, skilled care facilities, and board and care homes are state-licensed and are equipped to provide the safest environment possible for your loved one.
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