Sometimes, people with memory loss (particularly those with dementia and Alzheimer’s) can get confused— even in their own homes. Here are 16 home safety measures you can take to remove dangers so your loved one can continue to live independently.
You can help them live more safely by proactively removing possible household dangers and taking some of the following basic precautions:
Create Pathways That Are Easy to Navigate
- Create a “wander loop” in your home. This is a clear pathway that allows the person to safely roam about the environment. Secure rugs and install handrails throughout the loop.
- Remove any clutter from pathways between rooms, so that your loved one can get outside in case of an emergency. If you’re caring for someone in a wheelchair, make sure seat belts are worn to prevent falls, and ensure ramps are available.
Find Proper Lighting
- Install nightlights throughout the home.
- Adjust light fixtures to minimize shadows in the room.
- Use reflector tape on the way to the bathroom to make it easy to find.
- Install grab bars, a shower chair and non-slip rubber decals or mats inside and outside the shower or tub to help prevent falls. Monitor the use of appliances and razors, and remove all locks from bathroom doors.
Reduce Fire Risks
- Monitor your loved one when they use heating pads, and consider switching to a heating pad with auto shut off.
- Cover stove top, radiators, and electrical outlets with guards.
- Get rid of firearms or store them in a locked cabinet. Keep bullets in a separate locked cabinet.
- Do not allow unsupervised smoking.
Restrict Access to Certain Areas
- Lock doors that lead to potentially dangerous places, like the cellar and garage.
- Lock cabinets that contain knives, liquor, medications, and toxic chemicals (such as cleaning supplies that could be swallowed or cause burns).
- Install safety locks and alarms on exit doors, gates, and windows. That way you, a nurse, or an aide are alerted if they are opened.
- Store car keys in a locked container; disable the car.
- Cover smooth or shiny surfaces to reduce glare, which can cause confusion.
- Cover or remove mirrors if they are upsetting to a person with hallucinations.
- Make sure your loved one wears an ID bracelet at all times.
Work with Trained Specialists
- Hire an aide who has been trained to deal with memory loss and is supervised by a skilled home care nurse.
- Most importantly, along with a nurse or a doctor, constantly reassess your loved one’s abilities.
In addition to these home safety measures, also try to simplify tasks for your loved one. Model the action first, then ask your loved one to demonstrate. That way, you can be assured that they know how to carry out tasks.
It’s also important to know what triggers agitation. People with memory loss may experience sundowning or other forms of agitation. Encourage independence and social interaction, but be realistic about their limitations.
Start implementing these measures today to help your loved one live safely at home.