Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia can cause confusion and disorientation as the disease progresses, which is why it is increasingly important to create safe environments for a senior loved one with the disease.
Making your home easy to navigate for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is a crucial step in caregiving and one that, if done right, can help them feel less anxiety and stress.
A Home Safety Checklist for Alzheimer’s
Learn more about making your home safe for a senior loved one with dementia:
1. Assess your home.
Start in your front yard and walk through the home, trying to see things from the perspective of your loved one. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association. These organizations can provide specialists who can come to your home and give you thorough safety advice. As you go through your home, take notes on changes you need to make.
2. Inspect closets and storage space.
Inspect any unsecured place and regularly inspect the refrigerator or pantry for expired or molded food. Dispose of any item, or move to your secured “danger zone” that may cause harm to your senior loved one.
3. Reduce the risk of falls.
As you walk through your home, think through any areas where your loved one may fall. If there are stairs in your home, ensure they have a handrail. Consider installing a handicap accessible bathroom or walk-in shower. You may want to purchase furniture to help your loved one, like adding bed rails to your loved one’s bed or a recliner that lifts to make standing easier.
4. Secure a “danger zone.”
Choose one place to keep any dangerous items. This could include alcohol, cleaning products or power tools – anything that could be mistaken as something else. Lock this area to keep your loved one away from these potentially dangerous items. Use child locks on cabinets and drawers for all electric appliances, laundry detergent (pods) and medication as well.
5. Use technology.
Employing technology in your home can help keep your loved one safe and give you peace of mind. Motion-sensor alarms can help alert you if your loved one leaves the home alone. There are also bed pads, floor mats and seat cushions that can alert you when you loved one gets up or even leaves a room. Consider using a video monitor to help you supervise your loved one as the disease progresses.
Home Safety Tips for Dementia
As you walk through your home, consider these tips to make your home more comfortable for your loved one with dementia:
- Anchor bookshelves to the walls
- Arrange lighting to minimize shadows
- Clear the walkway from leaves or snow regularly
- Eliminate busy clutter and wallpaper, which can cause disorientation
- Encourage children to keep their toys out of the walkway outside the home
- Fence in your yard with locked gates to help your loved one be outside safely
- Install audio or video monitors throughout the home
- Install temperature-controlled water faucets
- Remove knives or sharp kitchen tools
- Remove locks from bathroom doors
- Remove the lock from your loved one’s bedroom door so he or she is unable to lock themselves inside
- Repair cracked sidewalks or uneven paths to reduce the risk of falls
- Use nonskid bathmats in the bathroom and kitchen
What steps have you taken to keep your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia safe? Share your home safety tips with us in the comments below.