When caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, it is very important that you take the time to prepare your home. Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias cause a number of changes in the body that can affect the safety of your loved one if certain precautions are not taken.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, those with the disease lose their ability to judge depth and distances, get lost easily or forget where they are and their behavior patterns change often resulting in mood swings. While you cannot change the progression of the disease, you can do things around your home to ensure safety.
Start by evaluating your environment and targeting the areas that pose the biggest risks to your loved one. Usually these areas are the kitchen and garage or any other place with sharp items and harmful chemicals like cleaning supplies. It is best to put knives, power tools and any weapons out of sight and lock them up. It may also be a good idea to remove the knobs from your stove if your loved one could spend any unsupervised time in the kitchen, preventing them from turning on a burner and forgetting about it.
Another very important step to dementia-proofing your home is to place medication in a locked drawer or cabinet. While most caregivers have a hard time convincing their loved one to take their medication, other patients may take it, forget and take it again. Many caregivers say that installing a baby monitor has helped with peace of mind knowing that their loved one is safe in their room. This is especially helpful if your loved one is up and down frequently during the night.
Removing items from the floor such as rugs or magazine racks are a good way to help prevent your loved one from tripping and falling. If you do not want to remove your rugs, try applying an adhesive to the bottom to keep the edges from curling up and creating a hazard.
The bathroom is one of those areas that can be a dangerous place for those with dementia. There are a couple ways to make the bathroom a safer area for your loved one, like adding grab bars to the shower and toilet area and adding a textured mat in the tub, shower and the floor to prevent slipping. Dementia proofing your home is an important first step on your caregiving journey.
The Alzheimer Store is a great place to find products designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their loved ones, like fidget blankets, bed alarm systems and more! Visit their website www.alzstore.com for details.