Create a safe home for someone with Alzheimer's

Published in Senior Living, Senior Services, For the Health of It Author: Brenda Turner, Manager of Resident Support Services, St. Benedict's Community

Everyone wants to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. But when you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you are concerned about his/her safety.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease can cause changes in the brain and body that may affect safety including:

  • Judgment: Forgetting how to use household appliances
  • Sense of time and place: Getting lost on one’s own street
  • Behavior: Becoming easily confused, suspicious or fearful
  • Physical ability: Having trouble with balance
  • Senses: Experiencing changes in vision, hearing, sensitivity to temperatures or depth perception

You can adapt a home to make it safer for someone with Alzheimer’s. Start with these tips:

  • Survey the environment
    Certain areas such as the garage and basement pose more of a threat due to tools, chemicals and cleaning supplies.
  • Prep the kitchen
    Disable the stove (remove the knobs or disconnect the power source). Make sure small household appliances have auto shut-off features and are far from the sink. Remove decorative fruits or seasonings from the table and counters.
  • Have a list
    Keep emergency phone numbers for police, fire department, hospital and poison control near the phone.

Safety measures

  1. Have working fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Place deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors to make it difficult for the person to wander out of the house.
  3. Remove locks on bathroom and bedroom doors.
  4. Add extra lights to walkways.
  5. Use night lights in hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms.
  6. Remove guns or other weapons.
  7. Place medications in a locked drawer or cabinet. Use a pill box organizer or a medication reminder and dispensing system such as MedSmart.
  8. Remove tripping hazards — rugs, floor lamps or any clutter.
  9. Install an automatic thermometer for water temperature to avoid burns.
  10. Install walk-in showers with grab bars.
  11. Install grab bars by toilets.
  12. Secure all laundry detergent, bleach and cleaning supplies.
  13. Add locks to the washer and dryer or keep the door to laundry room locked.
  14. Secure hand and power tools including lawn mowers and weed trimmers.
  15. Secure poisonous chemicals such as gasoline, spray paint and paint thinner.
  16. Install a garage door safety sensor.

When you feel that you can no longer safely care for your loved one, CentraCare offers a variety of memory care housing options throughout Central Minnesota. Learn more.