Safety is important for everyone, but the need for a comprehensive safety plan is particularly important for a person living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias as the disease progresses. Taking steps to improve safety can prevent injuries and help a person with dementia feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed and maintain his or her independence longer. As the disease progresses, the person’s abilities will change. But with some creativity and flexibility, the home can be adapted to support these changes.
Alzheimer’s disease causes a number of changes in the brain and body that may affect safety. Depending on the stage of the disease, these can include:
- 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
Home Safety Tips:
- Evaluate your environment – a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias may be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors.
- Avoid injury during daily activities – most accidents in the home occur during daily activities such as eating, bathing, and use the restroom. Take special precautions at these times.
- Adapt to vision limitations – dementia sometimes causes changes in vision that make it difficult for a person to decipher between colors and understand what he or she sees.
- Firearms in the home – if someone is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, firearms can pose a significant risk for everyone. Consider removing guns from the home to fully protect the family from an accident.
- Wandering and getting lost – Six in 10 people with dementia will wander once. To help prevent wandering, the Alzheimer’s Association offers strategies to help caregivers reduce or discourage loved ones from wandering.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a Home Safety Checklist, a comprehensive guide of home safety checks.