For a person dealing with dementia, home safety is essential. Dementia causes an individual to lose their sense of judgement, time, place, and physical ability. These factors greatly influence the way a home should be structured for that person. Remember, dementia is an ongoing process and progresses over time, so some modifications will have to be made as the symptoms progress and be based on the individual. Here are some tips to help you get started making your home dementia safe.
General Info: The very first thing to do is contact your local Area Agency on Aging because they can provide help and direct you to life care experts, occupational and physical therapists, and aging care experts who can come and evaluate your home and help you to turn it into a safe place for someone with dealing with dementia.
No locks on bedroom doors: Make sure that your loved one’s bedroom doesn’t have a lock on it so that nobody gets locked in or out, it also allows you easy access to them in times of emergency.
Install a monitor: Monitors such as a baby monitor will be very useful especially if your loved one has severe dementia. It will allow you to know if your loved one needs help with something or has gotten out of bed.
Heating and Cooling Device Cautions: Don’t have a portable heater in your loved one’s room, instead use a heat pad which you warm up or a heating blanket which only you have the controls to. Avoid using fans, instead set up a central AC system in your home.
Use a Night Light: Just in case your loved one needs to get out of bed in the night, they will be able to navigate where to go.
Keep Water here: Just in case your loved one feels thirsty in the middle of the night, they won’t have to go all the way to the kitchen to get a drink of water.
No locks on bathroom doors: No locks should be placed to avoid lock ins. Also, this will enable you to help your loved one in times of emergency.
No slip zones: Carpet is ideal to have around sinks, toilet and the bathtub. However, non slip mats around the toilet, in and around the bathtub/shower, and all sinks will also provide safety.
Comfort: Assess your loved one to find out if they need a raised toilet seat, a hand holding showerhead, or a shower stool. Grab bars are also extremely useful around the toilet, and in and around the shower/bathtub. Make sure that grab bars contrast to the color of the walls so that it is easy to see.
Cabinets: Only keep unlocked cabinets for harmless objects which your loved one needs to use such as a toothbrush, a comb, and towels. Razors, electrical supplies, cleaning supplies, and medicine should be locked away and out of access to your loved one.
Ground fault circuit interrupter: This device instantly breaks the electrical circuit from an ongoing electric shock from a water spill.
Install Faucet Covers: This is an inexpensive way to prevent an injury if your loved one falls in the bathtub.
Control Water Temperature: Set the water heater to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celcius) to prevent hot water burns.
Use Night Lights: Just in case your loved one needs to go to the bathroom at night, they will be able to find their way.
Drain Taps In Sinks: This will ensure that small items will not be accidently flushed away.
Use Curtains: Avoid using glass doors as they can break and cause serious damage. Curtains are easy to install and do not cause injury.
Bathtub/Shower Entrance: If it is possible, try making the entrance to the bathtub/shower a ramp rather than a step and avoid using any frames.
Unplug the microwave: This is to ensure that your loved one doesn’t accidentally burn anything.
Accessible food: Make food easy to access and in a designated spot where your loved one can find it.
Knives and other Sharp/Electrical Appliances: These should be kept in a cabinet which is out of reach from your loved one and also have a lock on it. Other appliances to lock up would include alcohol, matches, scissors, blades, cleaning supplies, and plastic bags as they can pose to be a choking hazard.
Remove artificial foods, magnets, and table pieces: These can appear to be edible.
Slip free zone: Removie rugs or carpets which can be potential slip hazards. Insert non slip strips in the kitchen(especially around the sink) or have wall-to-wall carpet.
Keep flammable liquids away from the kitchen: This can pose as a safety hazard, the best place to put this would be in the garage.
Drain taps: Insert these in the kitchen sink to catch items which accidentally fall in.
Keep a night light: In case your loved one needs to enter the kitchen in the night.
Stove safety: Install safety knobs and automatic timers for the stove to turn off if it detects that there is no movement. Also, install a device to turn off the stove if it has been on for an excessive amount of time.
Walls and floors: Keep walls a neutral color and different from the floor color to avoid confusion. Try having wall-to-wall carpeted floors to avoid injury in case of a fall. If you have wooden floors, install non slip strips throughout vicinity. Bookshelves should be anchored to the wall.
Avoid Wall Mirrors: This can cause confusion for your loved one on what is real and what is a reflection. Try sticking to handheld mirrors to avoid this problem.
A clean room is a safe room: Keep rooms tidy and neat to help your loved one avoid confusion. Make sure that rooms are devoid of clutter such as paper, books, coffee mugs, and collectibles.
Lighting: Low glare and motion sensor lights are the best in terms of helping your loved one avoid anxiety. Avoid having lighting that produces numerous shadows as they can be confused as holes in the ground.
Entranceways: Mark entrance ways to rooms with bright, reflective, glow in the dark tape. Glass doors to patios should also be marked in this manner as well.
Stairways: Have stairways possess handles that go beyond the first and last step. Try having stairs carpeted or have non slip strips placed on every step. Install a gate at the base and top of every stairwell.
Sharp Corners: Sharp corners of tables, chairs, and counters should all be childproofed. Rolling chairs and desks should be avoided.
Electric Outputs: Childproof all electric outputs into the house which are not being used.
Emergency numbers: Post a list of numbers of the fire department, police, medical services, and your number next to every home telephone in case of emergencies.
Install home security: If possible, get a home security system to help you monitor your loved one even when you aren’t around. You can control the lights, temperature, and even monitor the activities of your loved one such as knowing when they go outside all on your phone.
Keep locked: If possible, keep this part of the house locked away from your loved one. This is a great place to store cleaning appliances, breakable belongings, collectibles, and medicines. If it isn’t possible, lock away cleaning supplies and other items in closets. Keep lids of washers and dryers closed at all times and remove big knobs because they could be accidentally turned.
Keep locked: The garage can also be used as a storage room just as the laundry room can.
Fences: Install fences around your front and backyard to allow your loved one to walk outside.
Pools: Keep pools fenced off and install a pool cover that can support body weight just in case your loved one accidentally wanders into that zone. Install motion sensors that can alert you when your loved one does this.
Walkways: Keep walkways well lit with arrows pointing in the direction of the house. Avoid having steps, instead install a ramp with handles.