People with Dementia can continue to live in their homes, as long as there’s home safety measures in place. As dementia progresses, your loved one’s abilities will change as the disease takes its toll. However, with some problem solving on your behalf, you can modify their home environment to support these changes and their safety.
How The Disease Affects Their Safety
With some creativity and flexibility on your part, you can create a safe and supportive home environment for your loved one’s needs and one that promotes meaningful activity and social interaction.
Dementia causes numerous changes in the brain and body that may affect home safety. Depending on the stage of their disease, these might include:
Sense of place and time: they may get lost in familiar territory
Judgment: forgetting how to use household appliances like the stove or washing machine
Physical ability: trouble balancing
Behavior: they may become easily confused, fearful or paranoid
Senses: they may experience changes in vision, hearing, sensitivity to temperatures and/or depth perception
Dementia Home Safety Checklist
Avoid safety hazards in the kitchen. Install a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker on the stove so a person with dementia cannot turn it on. Consider removing the knobs. Use appliances that have an auto shut-off feature. Keep them away from water sources such as sinks. Remove decorative fruits, sugar substitutes and seasonings from the table and counters.
Evaluate your environment. A person with dementia may be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors. Pay special attention to garages, work rooms, basements and outside areas where there are more likely to be tools, chemicals, cleaning supplies and other items that may require supervision.
Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses for local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control helplines.
Make sure safety devices are in working order. Have working fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Place medications in a locked drawer or cabinet. To make sure that their medications are taken safely, use a pill box organizer and/or keep a daily medication list and check off each medication when they take it.
Improve laundry room safety. Secure & lock all cleaning products such as: liquid laundry “pacs”, detergent, and bleach. You want to prevent them from accessing appliances like the dishwasher and dryer. Keep emergency number for poison control on the refrigerator. And when possible, keep this room locked and secured.
Install locks out of sight. Install deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors to make it difficult for them to leave the house. You should keep an extra set of keys hidden near the door for easy access. Do remove locks in bedrooms and bathrooms so they don’t accidentally get locked inside.
Assess safety hazards in the basement & garage. Secure all power tools and equipment such as lawn mowers and weed eaters. Keep poisonous chemicals such as spray paint, paint thinner, and oil and gasoline out of their reach. Even install garage door safety sensors.
Remove and disable guns or other weapons. The presence of a gun or weapon in their home may lead to unexpected danger. Dementia can cause a person to accidentally believe that a familiar person is an intruder.
Remove tripping hazards. Keep floors and all other surfaces clutter free. Remove all objects such as magazine racks, coffee tables and floor lamps for extra measure.
Watch the temperature of water and food. It might be hard for the person with dementia to know the difference between cold and hot temperatures. You should consider installing a thermometer for water temperature anywhere there’s faucets.
Avoid injury in the bathroom. Install walk-in showers. Add things like grab bars to the shower or tub area to give them independent, safe movement. Add things like textured stickers to slippery tub surfaces. Apply adhesives to keep bathroom rugs in place, or simply remove rugs completely from there area.
Keep walkways well-lit. You should add extra lighting to doorways, stairways, areas that are in between rooms, and in bathrooms.
Use night lights in the hallways, and in bedrooms & bathrooms to reduce the chance for accidents and reduce their disorientation.
Support the person’s needs. Above all else, don’t create a home that feels restrictive. Their home should promote their independence and social interactions as much as possible.
Home Safety Checklist for Dementia Safety
People with Dementia can continue to live in their homes, as long as there's home safety measures in place. As dementia progresses, your loved one's abilities will change as the disease takes its toll.