Alzheimer’s Home Safety Checklist
When you have an elderly person in your home with Alzheimer’s Disease, home safety can be a major concern. Often times it’s not that they physically can’t do things, it’s that they mentally can’t remember how to do things. This can lead to dangerous situations like them forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking a meal or not knowing how to call 911 in case of an emergency. If this is happening in your home, consider making an Alzheimer’s home safety checklist.
There are some basic home safety steps for the elderly to take no matter what the situation is, such as making sure rooms are free of clutter and well lit, removing rugs to reduce a risk of tripping, and adding railings and other support so that falls are less likely to occur.
Yet, an Alzheimer’s home safety checklist goes deeper than the basics because of the unique nature of the memory loss disease.
If you are working on an Alzheimer’s home safety checklist, remember that it’s important to understand how Alzheimer’s affects safety in order to know what change you need to make in your home. Alzheimer’s causes many changes in the brain and body that will continue to increase as time goes on. Depending on what stage of Alzheimer’s the person is at, they could forget how to use household appliances. They could also lose a sense of time and place – so for example, getting lost in their own neighborhood.
Their behavior will also change and they are easily confused, suspicious, or fearful. Their senses will also change over time so that their vision, hearing, and sensitivity to temperatures or depth perception is altered. With all of these things happening, people with Alzheimer’s have an increased risk of falling since they struggle with balance.
When implementing your Alzheimer’s home safety checklist, make sure that the person doesn’t feel restricted or locked into their own home. Think of doing things in a way that the person doesn’t notice it all happening at once. After the changes are made, they will likely forget how things were before and adjust to the new order of things.
Five items to have on your Alzheimer’s home safety checklist:
Things that we use every day can suddenly become hazards when dealing with someone who has Alzheimer’s. For example, the stove, the laundry detergent, and even the front door can be dangerous for a person with memory loss. You can’t watch you loved one all the time, so keeping a list of emergency phone numbers handy, such as the local police and fire departments, is always best. You don’t want to be frantically searching for who to call during an emergency.
Stop the stove
In the kitchen consider installing a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker on the stove so that the person with Alzheimer’s cannot turn it on. You could also remove the knobs to the stove. Another suggestion is to find appliances that have an auto shut-off feature so that things are not left on when you’re not there to double check.
Lock the doors
Installing locks to make sure the person doesn’t leave the house and wander is also an option, even though it seems extreme. You can place deadbolts higher or lower on exterior doors to make it more difficult for the person to wander outside. Removing locks from bathroom and bedroom doors can also prevent the person from accidentally getting locked in a room.
If you have guns or other weapons in your home, it’s best to take them out of the house. People with Alzheimer’s sometimes forget who their caretakers and family members are, so they could accidentally mistake them for an intruder. In this case, you don’t want them to have access to weapons.
Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and even medications can be a hazard. It’s best to lock all of your liquids somewhere away from the washer and dryer so that the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t decide to use them. The same goes with medications – lock them away. People with memory loss tend to take more pills than they need to and are at risk of overdosing. Also, keeping a list of daily medications and checking it off can also help avoid mistakes.
Don’t forget the garage
Even if the elderly person never wandered into the garage before, keep in mind that doesn’t mean they won’t do it now. The garage is important to consider when making your Alzheimer’s home safety checklist. Make sure that hand and power tools, such as lawnmowers and weed trimmers, are in a secure and locked place. Also, try to lock away gasoline, spray paint, or anything else that could be potentially dangerous.
For more information on Alzheimer’s be sure to check out this helpful resource.