Among the most difficult parts of being a family caregiver to an older adult with dementia is the way the disease changes the way they act. It can cause them to make poor decisions that could lead to injuries or even death. They may also engage in challenging behaviors, like wandering, that make them wander away from home where they could get lost or die from exposure to the cold.
As a result, one of the chief concerns of many family caregivers is how they can keep their loved one safe. Fortunately, there are lots of things caregivers can do to improve the safety of a senior with dementia.
Below are some ideas to keep older adults with dementia safer.
Remove Inside Door Locks
If there are locks on bedroom or bathroom doors, consider removing them. An older adult with dementia may lock themselves in a room by accident and be unable to get the door unlocked. While alone in the room, they may become frightened and confused or hurt themselves. While not having a lock on the bathroom door could mean the senior occasionally walks in on their caregiver, a moment of embarrassment is better than the senior being injured.
Make Changes to the Stove
Seniors with dementia will reach a point where it’s unsafe for them to cook or use appliances in the kitchen. They may turn on the stove and forget to turn it off or do something unsafe, like leaving a towel resting against a lit burner, causing a fire. One way to prevent that is by having a circuit breaker installed for the stove, so the senior cannot turn the stove on when no one is looking. Caregivers may also want to remove the knobs from the stove.
Lock Up Household Chemicals
Every household has chemicals in it. They’re used for cleaning, keeping weeds out of the lawn, and filling the windshield wiper fluid on the car. Dementia can make older adults mistake chemicals for liquids they can drink. To prevent your aging relative from drinking household chemicals, keep them in a locked cupboard and put the key someplace they won’t find it.
Use a Monitor in the Bedroom
Sleeping in the room with the older adult can mean the caregiver doesn’t get enough sleep. Instead of sleeping in the room, try placing a monitor in the senior’s room. You can use the same kind of monitor used for a baby. That way, you can hear if the older adult gets out of bed or calls for you during the night.