Safe Spaces: Making Your House Safe for People with Dementia

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More than 850,000 people are living with a form of dementia in the United Kingdom. These disorders are so prevalent that 52 percent of people in the UK know somebody that has been diagnosed with dementia.

When you’re taking care of a loved one with dementia, making sure they’re safe is a priority, especially if they’re living in your home. Here are some guidelines on how you can make your home safe and dementia-friendly:

General Safety

Even when you employ someone to provide 24-hour care and assistance for your loved one, you can make your home more secure and comfortable. The following are some general guidelines to keep your loved one safe.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in every major area of your home, particularly the bedrooms and the kitchen.
  • Make sure all external doors and windows have working locks. Install deadbolts in hard to reach areas to prevent your loved one from leaving without you knowing.
  • Leave copies of all locks in a secure place outside your home in case your loved one accidentally locks you out.
  • Look for and treat all uneven or slippery surfaces in your home. Put non-skid strips on tiles or hardwood flooring. Check if all steps and stairs are level and install non-skid strips on their edges.
  • Put childproof plugs on electrical outlets you don’t routinely use and secure all extension cords to the floor or baseboards to prevent tripping.

Bedrooms

Whether your loved one is bedridden or not, they will be spending a lot of time in the bedroom. You need to ensure that they’re safe, especially at night.

  • Remove locks from the door so you can’t be locked out. This also gives you easy access to the room in case of emergencies.
  • Continuously remove floor clutter and obstructions to prevent tripping or slipping. These include shoes, slippers and rugs.
  • Consider using devices such as motion sensors or audio monitors so you can detect if your loved one is in distress or out of bed.

Bathrooms

Ensure your loved one’s safety in the bathroom by following these guidelines:

  • Install grab bars near the shower stall, bathtub and the toilet. Put down non-slip mats around or inside these features for added safety.
  • Remove any locks or bolts that you can’t open from outside the bathroom. Make sure you have copies of the bathroom key within easy reach.
  • Lock up all sundries that could cause harm such as razor blades, prescription medication and cleaning chemicals.

Kitchen

Kitchens can be a minefield of hazards without your supervision. To prevent any untoward incidents, employ the following strategies:

  • Install childproof locks and latches on cabinets that store cutlery and breakable items like glassware. Lock away any chemicals you keep in the kitchen.
  • Secure any ignition sources like matches and electronic lighters.
  • Check if your stove and oven have safety switches and automatic shut-off switches. Have them installed if they don’t.
  • Disconnect any appliance that you’re not using. These include electric stoves, microwaves and the garbage disposal unit.

Although any home should be a safe space for its residents, you need to be more vigilant when living with someone who has dementia. This guide will help make your situation a little easier to manage.

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