Making Home Safe for Dementia Patients
Making Home Safe for Dementia Patients
If your loved one has dementia, you may find yourself unsure of how you can help them. One of the most important ways you can help someone with dementia is by making their home a safer place. Seniors living with dementia have a constant uphill battle with their memory, and if they are in an unsafe home environment, they can unknowingly be a danger to themselves
One of the first steps you should take to make your loved one’s place a safer home is to meticulously assess the home. Try your best to see it in the eyes of someone that has dementia or Alzheimer's. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's may have trouble with depth perception and coordination, so this is an important factor to keep in mind when looking out for potential hazards.
As you are assessing your loved ones home, take a look at the AARP checklist for home safety. To view their official checklist, click here
Fall-Proofing the Home: Where to Start?
The AARP recommends that you begin in the front yard. If there are any steps, mark them with a colored tape to make them more visible. Make sure the front yard is free of any obstructions and that the surface is even. Cracked pavement can be a major tripping hazard to someone suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, so even if you think an imperfection is minor, consider fixing it to be safe. It is also crucial to make sure that the yard has great lighting at night. If the lighting is inconsistent, it can create shadows, and shadows can be mistaken for holes or obstructions, or even people. Avoid unnecessary anxiety with your loved one by making the front yard well lit.
Next, enter the home. One of the major considerations you should have when making a senior’s home safer is to decide whether to keep the locks on your home or not. If you do keep the locks on, you run the risk of your loved one getting locked in or out of various rooms. If you remove the lock, your loved one comprises some of their privacy. The AARP says that those with dementia and Alzheimer's have a better time discerning the space around them when the walls are painted a light, solid, color. Busy wallpapers can make the room overwhelming for seniors. Also, consider removing any mirrors. Mirrors are great to make a room look bigger, but for an individual with Alzheimer's or dementia, it can be confusing and overwhelming to have them in a room. Again, make sure the room is well lit.
Is the Bathroom the Biggest Fall Risk for Seniors?
Go into the bathroom. Considered adding non slip bath mats to the floors of the bathroom as tiles can make the room slippery. Install grab bars in the bathroom so the senior can support themselves while using the bathroom or shower. One thing that some may forget to take into consideration when making their loved one’s home a safer place is ensuring that the outlets in the bathroom are installed with a ground fault circuit interrupter, installing this will help prevent electric shock if the outlet gets wet.
Check out the kitchen. You can add temperature controlled water faucets to your loved ones sink so that the water is never dangerously hot or shockingly cold. Installing an automatic stove shut off is crucial. If the stove isn't in use, the device will use motion detection (or lack of motion) and shut off on its own. Make sure that food is accessible and within reach. It is also important that you childproof some of the things in the kitchen. Make it difficult for your loved one to access knives or anything that they could injure themselves with.
Some miscellaneous tips: Remove any chairs with wheels from rooms. This can lead to hard and painful falls. Make sure photos, shelves, desks, or any large piece of furniture is adequate anchored to the walls or floors. Remove any harmful chemicals from your loved ones access, this includes bleach, detergent, extra medicine, alcohol, tobacco, or anything you think they might be interested in.
It may seem sad, but making a senior’s home safer, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer's or dementia, is similar to baby proofing a house. There is no harm in going the extra mile to make sure your loved one is safe.