Living with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease can present plenty of unique challenges, and home safety is one of them. Mental and physical issues can turn normal homes into a maze of hazards. Here are some things to look out for if you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Start With a Safety Assessment
The easiest way to begin evaluating your home’s safety is to simply walk through and look for hazards. Consider talking with your loved one’s medical providers to make sure you’re aware of any particular issues they may be experiencing, such as balance or mobility problems.
Watch for Trip Hazards
Falls can be devastating to those with Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any hazards that may lead to falling. Make sure different flooring types have ramps or risers to smooth the transition to different levels in the home, and watch out for thick rugs or slippery floor spots. Keep the floors clear of clutter, and be particularly careful about stairs. Consider putting your loved one’s bedroom on the first floor and restricting access to the second floor, or consider installing nonslip flooring.
Avoid Dangers in the Bathroom
Showering and bathing can pose dangerous risks for those with Alzheimer’s. Place nonslip mats and strips in the shower and on the floor to avoid falls, and lock up any electrical items that could cause burns. If your loved one uses blow dryers or curling irons, consider supervising to avoid accidental injuries. Be particularly sure to lock up any medications, including over-the-counter ones, such as ibuprofen.
Keep the Bedroom Safe
It’s important for everyone to have their own private space, but take time to remove hazards from the bedroom. Avoid space heaters that can cause fires if placed too close to bedding, and make sure any electric blankets or heating pads have automatic temperature controls and shut-off mechanisms to avoid burns. If your loved one tends to wander, consider installing a door alarm. A baby monitor can also help you listen for any distress or problems.
Address Kitchen Concerns
Don’t risk a house fire or other injury if your loved one tries to use the stove. Install safety knobs on stoves and other appliances, and consider disconnecting your garbage disposal and locking up sharp knives and other tools. Don’t store any dangerous non-food items in your kitchen, including food-shaped magnets or other novelties.
Prepare Your Living Room
It’s easy to let clutter build, but make sure to avoid leaving toys or shoes scattered on the floor for your loved one to trip over. Keep electrical cords neatly stowed behind furniture or attached to the base of your walls. If you have large windows or glass doors, consider putting a decal or other marker on them so that your relative can easily tell if they are open or closed.
Secure Utility Spaces
Even if your loved one rarely ventures into storage closets, utility rooms, or garages, make sure to safeguard those areas. Install child safety locks on any cabinets that contain cleaning solutions, pesticides, weedkillers, or other hazardous materials. Store sharp tools somewhere safe and secure. If you can, simply locking the door to those rooms may be a good idea.
Monitor Outdoor Access
Even if your loved one never leaves home alone, it’s important to keep things safe outdoors. Make sure you have adequate lighting around any walkways or doors that you use for access. If you need to climb steps, make sure they remain clutter-free and have a handrail or other safety precaution. Lock the entries to any hazardous areas in your yard, such as a swimming pool or tool shed. However, make sure that there are still plenty of safe and accessible exits in case of fire or other emergency.
It may require some extra precautions, but a little planning can help keep those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers safe and comfortable around the house. However, if your loved one is still struggling at home, there are other options. Learn how a good residential facility can be helpful for some families.
The Alzheimer's Site is a place where people can come together to support those whose lives have been affected by Alzheimer's disease. In addition to sharing stories of hope and love, shopping for the cause, and signing petitions, visitors can take just a moment each day to click on the purple button to help provide care for those living with Alzheimer's disease and research for a brighter future. Visit The Alzheimer's Site and click today - it's free!