If you’re a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia then you have many things on your mind, including a variety of safety concerns. When providing care at home, you’ll need to make some adjustments to maximize safety, but try not to feel overwhelmed. The following safety tips will help you improve safety for your loved one and everyone living in your home:
- Check emergency equipment
First, double-check the safety equipment in your home. Fire extinguishers should be in good working order, and smoke alarms
and carbon monoxide detectors should have working batteries.
- Remove tripping hazards
In general, you should keep pathways in your home clear and free of obstacles, especially the stairwells. If you have tile or hardwood flooring which may become slippery (or just cold) lay down area rugs that won’t cause a tripping hazard so your loved one can move safely and be more comfortable. Everything should be well-lit so your spouse or parent can see where they are going.
- Fall-proof your bathroom
Falls are a large concern in the bathroom. You should consider installing a walk-in shower to allow your parent or spouse easy access. Grab bars should be placed in the shower and next to the toilet. Non-slip mats should be laid on the floor and in the tub.
- Invest in assistive devices
Technology has made amazing advances in the world of assistive devices possible. Now, there’s support in the home for everything from walking poles to devices to help make getting in and out of bed easier. In fact, the world of assistive devices has grown so much that your options might feel overwhelming. Our care managers can help you determine the best devices to improve safety for your loved one.
- Monitor water temperatures
Some people with Alzheimer’s begin to have trouble feeling the temperature of water. Installing a thermometer is a good safety measure in the bathroom and in the kitchen.
- Remove locks
Consider removing the lock on the bathroom door so that your spouse or parent cannot accidentally lock themselves in. The same goes for the bedroom. If you’re concerned about your loved one wandering outside then consider a safety alarm that will alert you when a door or window is opened without first entering the code.
- Kitchen safety
The kitchen holds many hazards for a person with Alzheimer’s. Among them, the stove is a top concern. You don’t want your loved one turning on the stove or oven and forgetting about it. Consider installing a gas valve or a circuit breaker in your oven so that they cannot turn it on.
Other appliances are fire risks as well. Use appliances with automatic shut-off valves. Limit access to chemicals or other kitchen hazards that may be confusing to someone with Alzheimer’s. A good way to do this is to use safety locks to secure bleach and other hazardous chemicals.
- Safety proof your laundry room and garage
The laundry room should be locked, if possible. If not, install safety proof handles on the laundry machines and ensure all detergents, stain removers, and other chemicals are locked up in a cupboard.
The garage and the basement often hold dangerous items, whether it be power tools, a lawnmower, or garden chemicals. For this reason, these spaces should either be locked or dangerous items secured. But, make sure that any equipment for your loved one’s safe hobbies are not locked up because it’s important to encourage them to continue the hobbies they love. Move items like hand spades or gardening gloves to a safer area of the house that they can access.
- Secure all guns
If your loved one was a hunter, or if they simply have guns or other weapons around the home, be sure these are locked up. A person with Alzheimer’s may mistake you or another family member for an intruder, and try to protect themselves with a weapon.
- Avoid medication overdoses
Medication safety is a huge issue. All medications should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet so your parent or spouse cannot accidentally overdose on them. You should use pillboxes and keep a written log of when they took their medication. If swallowing becomes difficult, you should ask their doctor if a liquid option is available, or if the pill can be crushed and added to food.
While the safety issues surrounding Alzheimer’s can see overwhelming, with these small adjustments you can ensure your home is a safe place for your loved one.