Whether your parent has short-term memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, having a safe home is critical to preventing a serious injury. It is your job as a caregiver to adapt the house to support a safe living space.
When I assess someones home I try to see the home through the eyes of someone with dementia. I walk the most common pathways and observe the clients behaviors if possible. It is likely you start to see patterns. If there have been falls or incidents in the home, this is also a great place to start.
Here are some trouble areas you need to be aware of:
1. Bathrooms – Cold, sharp corners, medicine, poisons, electricity/water make the bathroom the most dangerous room in the house. Especially when you factor in nighttime visits.
Solutions: Bedside commode, urinal jug, padded corners, assistance at night, night lights along the path and in the bathroom, removal of electrocution hazards, lock up any digestible or dangerous liquids.
2. Family Room – Many family rooms contain throw rugs, poor lighting, difficulty transferring from a chair, and clutter that creates a fall risk.
Solution: Tape down or remove throw rugs, use color stickers to large windows or glass doors, remove poisonous plants, eliminate clutter, simplify lighting (switch on wall and night lights).
3. Kitchen – Simplifying and making safe materials accessible while locking up or moving potentially dangerous items.
Solution: Hide sharp knives or utensils, lock up cleaning supplies, store toaster, blender and disconnect garbage disposal when not using, clean out refrigerator regularly.
4. Bedroom – Avoid electric blankets and a heating pad. Install mnightlights between bedroom and bathroom. Use of bright tape on floor, sharp edges and walls to guide and protect.
Of course, this is an abbreviated list, but it is a great place to start. Once wandering begins, then, of course, you need to install more precautions and may want to consult with an expert.