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In Home Safety for Seniors Exhibiting Dementia Signs

Posted on August 11, 2008 by DementiaGuide

In Home Safety for Seniors ExhibitingSigns of Dementia

Home safety may not be the first thing on your mind when symptoms of dementia begin showing up in one of your parents or your spouse, but it's imperative you address them if you want your mother or father or spouse to continue to enjoy his or her independence. The earliest signs of dementia don't always mean an individual has to go into an assisted living facility or move in with a family member; they can sometimes live for months or years in their own home if proper precautions for their safety are taken. Continuing to live at home can be advantageous for individuals with mild dementia because it reduces the chance of confusion and gives them a sense of peace and comfort being in familiar surroundings. There is always a danger; however, they could injure themselves in any unsupervised setting, and so proper precautions should be taken.

Dementia Signs Can be Unpredictable

Although the early signs of dementia are usually mild, dementia is generally unpredictable by nature. It is best to prepare in advance for potential changes in an individual's condition. You may tell yourself your mother or father is perfectly capable of understanding he or she should not drink anything poisonous, but do you want to take the chance that a brief episode of confusion will prove you wrong? Taking safety precautions in the home is similar to "baby-proofing" a house. Although the concept sounds undignified, it is not meant to be. You are simply being asked to look through the eyes of someone who is momentarily confused and sees the home as an alien environment they don't understand. If an item is potentially dangerous, it needs to be secured. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.

Household Safety:

  • Get rid of poisonous plants
  • Cover unused outlets with safety covers
  • Lock up medications
  • Put all cleaning supplies in one place and lock them up
  • Remove important documents and valuables - use a safety deposit box or ask a trusted family member to hold onto the items
  • Remove all guns, knives, and other "weapons"
  • Install nightlights in key locations
  • Reduce water temperature on the hot water heater to prevent scalding
  • Replace glassware with plastic or acrylic to reduce the chance of injury
  • Keep garbage out of reach and out of sight
  • Stow away all small appliances
  • Label all faucets red for hot, blue for cold
  • Install grab bars in the shower, bath, and near the toilet
  • Get rid of throw rugs than can cause trip-and-fall accidents
  • Make sure the person showing dementia signs wears an I.D bracelet
  • Reduce clutter in the home and get rid of furniture than is easily moved
  • Put safety locks on all cabinets, windows, and doors
  • Install rails on the bed to aid mobility or invest in a hospital bed
  • Secure car and house keys
  • Buy a telephone with one-touch dialing and program it for ease of use
  • Post reminders and instructions regarding proper self-care.
These precautions can help your parentlive independently for a period in his or her own home. Still, it remains essential that someone check in on a daily basis. A family meeting can help determine who will handle regular monitoring of signs and symptoms of dementia in the person. Don't be afraid to talk to neighbors, too. They can alert you if your mother or father exhibits unusual behavior, or is acting inappropriately, or let you know they are simply worried about him or her. Dementia is challenging, for persons with dementia, their caregivers, family, and friends. Making lifestyle adjustments for the person with dementia will help him or her live a safer and more independent life. Make necessary changes early on and everyone can rest easier, knowing proper precautions have been taken.

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Last updated January 9, 2019
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