5 Steps for Creating a Safer Environment for a Senior with Alzheimer’s

5 Steps for Creating a Safer Environment for a Senior with Alzheimer’s
When an older adult who has Alzheimer’s disease comes to visit or to live with you, making sure your home is safe takes planning. While most adult children know wandering is a risk, some are unaware of other hidden dangers that may be present in their family’s home.

Here are a few tips for making your home a safer environment for a loved one with dementia:

  1. Alarm System. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, three out of five people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander. It’s a very sobering statistic for family caregivers. One of the most important steps you can take in securing your home is to install a home alarm system. Make sure it has an alert to let you know if an exterior door has been opened. If you aren’t able to invest in a whole house alarm system, you can find individual door alarms at the local hardware.
  2. Rid the House of Dangers. Because of the damage this disease causes to the brain, a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia may not have good judgment. It can make some everyday household items more dangerous. Conduct a room-by-room audit of your home to check for items that might be harmful. While most people understand firearms and sharp kitchen knives can present a danger, other things to look for include cleaning products, razors and medications. Remove these items from the house or keep them locked up while your loved one is there. Make sure the key is store in a location the senior can’t access.
  3. Safely Store Electronics: Another concern to consider is where electronics are stored. A hair dryer stored near the bathroom sink or tub can present a risk for electric shock. As can small electrical appliances often left on counters near the kitchen sink, such as a toaster or coffee pot.
  4. Poisonous Plants. It isn’t uncommon for a person with Alzheimer’s disease to put foreign objects in their mouth and try to eat them. Plants and colorful flowers that attract the senior’s eye might be especially enticing. The New York Botanical Gardens has a list of Common Poisonous Household Plants you can review to make sure the ones in your home are safe if ingested.
  5. Fall Prevention. Alzheimer’s disease creates changes that put those who live with it at higher risk for falls. From a loss of depth perception to an unsteady gait, it’s important to conduct a home safety audit to try to minimize their fall risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a checklist you can download that will help you assess your home.

To learn more about home safety for an older adult with, we recommend a free guide from the Alzheimer’s Association. Safety at Home is a comprehensive resource for helping you identify potential problems in and around your home.

This article is part of our on-going commitment to provide education to seniors and their families. Learn more about Five Star Senior Living’s award-winning Bridge to Rediscovery Memory Care program and how we help enhance the quality of life for people with dementia.