Home should be a safe place, a refuge from the world where we can simply be and relish in the memories of what was, what is and what will be. Ensuring people with dementia can continue to live safely at home is a key priority for the Alzheimer Society. A home’s many traces of the past can help preserve a sense of self.
But a home can also be dangerous for older people, especially for those with dementia. The disease affects physical abilities as well as memory, judgment and insight. For example, the disease could make it difficult for him to remember to turn off the stove, avoid tripping over objects or realize the house is too cold.
To help someone with dementia live independently at home for as long as possible, we’ve compiled a list of tips to maximize safety and mobility throughout the house.
- Install door latches on storage cabinets and drawers for breakable or dangerous items such as glass containers, knives and matches. Consider locking away household cleaning products and alcohol.
- Install safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove. When not in the kitchen, consider removing stove knobs or turning off the gas or electricity.
- Place items such as erasers, matches and plastics in a secure drawer as a person with Alzheimer’s disease may eat such small items. Consider removing food-shaped magnets for the same reasons.
- Keep a night light in the kitchen and insert safety plugs into the outlets. (Do this for all main rooms in the house)
- Maintain a clean refrigerator. She may not be able to distinguish between rotten and edible food.
- Remove all scatter and throw rugs.
- Be careful when using electric mattress blankets or pads as they can cause burns and fires. Keep the control out of reach.
- If he has a tendency to fall out of bed, place mats along the side.
- Use a non-skid mat in the bathtub or shower.
- Install washable, rubber-backed bathroom carpeting to reduce chances of falls.
- Install grab bars by the toilet and tub and a raised toilet seat.
- Use a plasticized seat and a shower hose to allow the person to sit down in the tub.
- Install a contrasting coloured toilet seat to help define the fixture.
- Remove any wastebaskets that may be mistakenly used as a toilet.
- Remove all locks from the doors
- Remove low furniture from walkways to avoid falls. Clear electric cords as well. But be careful not to change too much as familiarity is important for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Keep the remote controls for the television or stereo system out of sight
- Hide all matches and lighters. Also avoid leaving him alone with an open fire in the fireplace.
For more information on living safely at home, visit our website.
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