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Health & Wellness

Home Safety for People With Alzheimer's

As a caregiver, you can take some simple steps to ensure safety in the home. By looking closely at your loved one’s surroundings and making the needed changes, you will reduce potential hazards. Use this checklist to conduct a safety check of your loved one’s home.

Throughout the home

  • Have a plan for fire and other emergencies posted near the phone. Do not leave your loved one home alone if he cannot respond to an emergency.
  • Provide adequate lighting.
  • Use night-lights or reflective tape along baseboards in hallways.
  • Check that flooring is even and rugs are tacked down.
  • Use a medical-alert bracelet.
  • Keep a recent photo available in case your loved one wanders.
  • Secure car keys.
  • Place a gate across stairs as needed.
  • Use a room monitor, like those used for infants, so your loved one can be heard.
  • Eliminate clutter. Clear walkways.
  • Ensure that Venetian blind, curtain and window shade cords are wrapped on holders.
  • Ensure that electrical and telephone wires are out of walkways.
  • Locks on windows and doors leading to outside should be placed higher or lower than eye level.
  • Place safety covers on doorknobs to prevent wandering.
  • Place bells on doors leading to outside.
  • Set hot water temperature at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent scalding.
  • Apply colorful decals to large windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Place guards around radiators and heaters.
  • Install safety latches or locks on cabinets where dangerous items are kept.

Kitchen and garage

  • Secure knives and other sharp objects.
  • Secure matches and sources of fire (i.e., remove knobs from stove or install a hidden gas valve or circuit breaker).
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near.
  • Remove spoiled food from the refrigerator.
  • Secure poisons, including cleaning materials, cosmetics, gasoline, and certain plants.
  • Put away kitchen appliances and other equipment, including knives, mixers, grills, guns, lawn mowers, power tools, because your loved one may not remember how to use them safely.

Bathroom

  • Remove electrical appliances, including electric razors or hair dryers, from the bathroom to reduce the risk of electrical shock.
  • Remove non-essential items.
  • Install grab bars in the shower or tub and at the edge of the sink and toilet area to prevent falls.
  • Apply textured decals on slippery surfaces. Use a color that blends with the surface to prevent confusion.
  • Use a bathtub bench or hand-held sprayer.

Outside the home

  • Lock gates to fences.
  • Disconnect gas grills.
  • Remove objects that block walking paths.

Wandering: How can you keep your loved one safe?

Some people with Alzheimer’s disease may wander from their home. Wandering has various causes, including boredom, frustration, physical discomfort and the inability to recognize familiar places, people, or objects. Here are some tips to help prevent wandering and keep your loved one safe:

  • Keep doors locked. You may want to consider adding a new lock or deadbolt.
  • Let your neighbors know about the wandering so they can alert you if they notice it.
  • Take your loved one on frequent walks, or exercise together.
  • Keep a recent photograph of your loved one to assist in identification if he becomes lost.
  • Place “stop,” “do not enter” or “closed” signs on doors.
  • Make sure your loved one wears an identification or medical bracelet with an emergency phone number.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association runs a Safe Return Program that assists with the identification and return of lost persons with Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900.