Although all seniors need to take certain safety measures, people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia can pose some additional safety issues. Here are some things you can do to improve the safety of your Kansas City home for yourself, or as the caregiver a loved one who has Alzheimer’s:
Alzheimer’s-specific safety measures:
- Install locks on all windows, outside doors, the door to your garage, and the door to your basement. Put the door locks up high where they’re not easily visible.
- Install alarms on doors and windows, or have an alarm system installed that will alert you when any door or window in the house is opened. But don’t forget to turn it on!
- Have safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch installed on your stove.
- Do not leave someone with late-stage Alzheimer’s alone in the bathroom.
- Turn your water heater to 120°F to help prevent burns.
- If you have land lines, post your phone number and address next to all receivers. If not, and the person who has Alzheimer’s has a cell phone, post it in several locations where it will be in clear view.
- Keep a house key hidden somewhere outside the house (or with a neighbor) in case you get locked out by the person with Alzheimer’s.
- Put childproof plugs on electrical outlets.
- Add childproof latches to kitchen cabinets that hold breakable or otherwise dangerous materials.
- Lock up all medications, and keep liquor in a locked cabinet.
- Keep all smoking materials (e.g., cigarettes, lighters, ash trays, matches) out of sight.
- Put red tape around things that may be hot (e.g., the stove, radiators, furnace, floor vents, space heaters); the color red may alert the person with Alzheimer’s that the area could be unsafe.
- Keep car keys locked up or well hidden.
- If you own any firearms, lock them up.
General safety measures:
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the kitchen and bedrooms. Don’t forget to change the batteries at least twice a year.
- Avoid the use of extension cords, if possible; make sure cords aren’t obstructing walking paths.
- Install additional lighting to rooms and entryways that aren’t well lit.
- Add hand rails and safety strips to all stairways, and grab bars in showers and by toilets.
- Avoid clutter, which can lead to falls.
- Remove throw rugs; they can also lead to falls.
Although Alzheimer’s disease comes with it’s own safety risks, a few minor changes to your home can go a long way toward keeping you or your loved one safe.