With 850,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the UK, and a significant number of the rest of the ageing population suffering from dementia from other causes, it is likely that many families will find themselves trying to make the home safe for individuals with dementia. The following is a list of proactive steps you can take as a caregiver regarding home safety for dementia and Alzheimer's sufferers.
Getting around the house
Make it easy and safe to navigate the house. That means getting rid of throw rugs and cleaning out clutter that gets in the way of a safe passage through the home. Remove decorative mirrors. Often a dementia patient can be startled by their appearance, especially if they have forgotten that they have aged or if they don't recognise their own face.
Simplify the kitchen. Remove outdated or spoiled food (check at least once a week). Move favourite foods or drinks into one or two special, and easy-to-reach, cabinets and remove the doors from these to make it easier to find things. Don't over pack these shelves. Remove sharp items like knives or place them in a locked drawer and consider installing safety locks on the stove and oven.
Retrofit the bathroom for someone with limited mobility. This includes installing a raised toilet seat, grab bars, a shower seat, and a handheld shower head.
Organise the cupboards. Arrange clothing on hangers in matching sets. Make sure all socks are paired and easy to access. Check regularly that dirty clothes are making it to the hamper and add baking soda to the wash if urine smells are a problem.
Securely store medicines
Make liberal use of safety locks. Besides in the kitchen, install safety locks on cabinets where chemical cleaners or other dangerous substances are stored, and secure medicines. Do not allow an individual with dementia to oversee the dispensing of his or her own medicines.
Caretaking for a loved one with dementia is one of the hardest jobs you can take on, and maybe one of the most important. Making sure your house, or that of your loved one, is set up to keep him or her safe is one step you can take to make this tough assignment a little easier.
At Flexebee, we offer a number of courses for caregivers, whether professionals or family members. Take a look at our courses, which cover a whole spectrum of care related issues such as Dementia Awareness training, as well as Medication Awareness training and our First Aid courses.