Is your loved one displaying signs of dementia? Do you notice things that are out of order when you visit, such as expired food in the fridge or the stove burner glowing red? Is your loved one forgetting to turn off the water or leaving the iron on? If so, it may be time to intervene. There are things you can do to make the home safer, but you may have to consider alternate living arrangements if the dementia progresses.
Safety in the Kitchen
Check in often, and check the food in the refrigerator. Throw away expired or spoiled food. You may have to disconnect the stove, and encourage your loved one to use the microwave instead. You can provide microwavable food, or prepare foods that can be easily heated in the microwave. Remove items that could be dangerous, such as sharp cooking utensils and knives. Lock up poisons such as bleach, pesticides and other potentially harmful liquids.
Scalding can occur quickly. Be sure the hot water temperature does not exceed 120 degrees. Put skid-free rugs in front of the tub and the kitchen sink to catch splashes and spills. Place a skid-free mat in the bathtub. Place signs above faucets that remind your loved one to turn off the water.
Remove Unnecessary Clutter
People with dementia get overwhelmed when their environment is chaotic. Help the individual keep clutter to a minimum. Get rid of items that are not being used. Throw away old newspapers, magazines and unnecessary paper. De-clutter closets and cabinets.
Lighting is Important
People with dementia forget to turn lights on and off. Put timers on living room lamps, bedroom lamps and outdoor lighting so they will come on in the evening, and go off in the morning. Motion sensor lighting is another way to assure your loved one will have adequate lighting when moving from one area of the house to another.
Lock up medication. Dementia patients may forget they have already taken their medications, and take a second or even third dose. You can administer the medications when you are there for your daily check-in. Remove all firearms from the home. Remove interior locks from doors to assure your loved one doesn’t accidentally lock himself in or out of a room. Remove portable heating devices, electric blankets and heating pads. Make sure smoke alarms are present and in working order.
Your loved one may be able to live independently if you make these adjustments to his living environment in the early stages of dementia. Unfortunately, dementia usually progresses to a stage requiring constant supervision. If you move the patient into your home, or hire a caregiver to supervise the patient in his own home you may have to make additional modifications to assure his safety.