Kathi Sargent, Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, gives an in-depth answer on a quite common question within the Alzheimer’s community:
Question: My grandfather has just been diagnosed with dementia and I worry about him being at home alone. Do you have any recommendations for home safety?
Answer: When caring for someone with dementia at home, safety is an extremely important concern. People living with dementia can remain in their homes safely for a longer period of time if certain safety issues are addressed.
Accommodate for visual changes
- Use contrasting colors on walls, trim and floors to help the person anticipate staircases and room entrances. This technique is also effective in the bathroom, where a white toilet and sink may be hard to see against a white floor and wall.
- Changes in levels of light can be disorienting. Try to maintain consistency in lighting the home and keep it well-lit.
- Add extra lighting in entries, area between rooms, stairways and bathrooms
- Diffuse glare by removing mirrors and glass top furniture
- Cover windows with blinds, shades or sheer drapes as needed to control and diffuse light.
- Use night lights
Avoid injury during daily activities
- Lower the temperature of tap water and monitor food temperatures if possible, to prevent accidental burns
- Install walk-in showers, grab bars and non-skid decals on slippery surfaces
- Provide the appropriate level of support to the person when taking prescription and over-the-counter medications
Beware of hazardous objects and substances.
- Lock up hazardous materials that could be ingested
- Limit the use of mixers, grills, microwaves, knives and lawnmowers.
- Remove guns and ammunition from the home
- Move items that might cause a person to trip such as unsecured throw rugs, floor lamps and coffee tables to create unrestricted areas for movement
- Check the refrigerator and discard expired food
Prepare for emergencies
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses by every phone
- Regularly check fire extinguishers and smoke alarms
- Enroll the individual in the Medic Alert/Safe Return program