Keeping an aging loved one who has dementia safe while living in your home can be challenging. Dementia oftentimes distorts a senior’s perception of the world around them. As a result your home’s contours can become an alien and frightening place when viewed through their eyes. A dark throw rug becomes a gaping hole they can fall into. Their own reflection in a wall mirror is perceived as a stranger. In addition to memory loss, dementia can also diminish a senior’s depth perception, coordination, balance, and strength. To ensure their safety, you’ll need to modify your home’s environment to facilitate your loved one staying there for as long as possible. To assist your efforts, here are several dementia safety tips that you can use.
Create a Safer Home Environment
Conduct a walk-through inside your home. Busy wallpaper, paint colors and large wall mirrors can confuse and even frighten a person with dementia. Ceilings and walls should be painted in pale colors that reflect light and contrast with floor coverings. Remove large mirrors that could startle them. Also look for slippery throw rugs, uneven surfaces and other obstacles at floor level that are falling hazards. Outfit each room with strong yet low-glare lighting and motion-sensing night lights, while minimizing shadows as much as possible. Moving room-to-room throughout your home, implement these additional changes:
Remove door locks to prevent them from getting locked in. Replace sharp objects like razor blades with less-dangerous ones like a cordless electric shaver. Scan for slip hazards on the bathroom floor including throw rugs and substitute large non-skid bath mats. Lock up any cleaning supplies and medications that are accessible. Install grab bars in the tub and next to the toilet. Also put in temperature-controlled water faucets to prevent scalding.
Take the lock off their bedroom door and place an audio monitor inside the room so that you can hear when they are out of bed or calling for help. Install a lock on your bedroom to block access to valuables or potentially-harmful items.
Place food within easy reach so they don’t have to climb on something to access it. Stow away knives and smaller electric appliances (toaster, blender, etc.) in a locked cabinet. Convert the faucets to temperature-controlled ones, and consider installing a motion-sensing automatic shut-off device on the stove that’ll turn it off when movement hasn’t been detected for a set period of time. Remove any slippery throw rugs from the kitchen, along with other tripping hazards.
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