Living with dementia

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Tips on making your environment safe

Every person with dementia will have different requirements for keeping a safe environment. Keep in mind some of the changes that occur with dementia:

  • Decreased balance and reaction time
  • Visual-perceptual problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Memory impairment
  • Decrease in judgment abilities
  • Less insight into environment and situations

To provide a safe home environment:

  • Focus on prevention: Take care to look around and see potential hazards such as carpets that may cause a fall, poisons that are easily accessible, a gas-fire stove top, small objects that could choke and doors that could lock accidentally and trap someone inside.
  • Be patient and slow down: try not to rush someone with dementia.
  • Simplify routines: personal care can become more challenging for someone with dementia, so avoid accidents by breaking down complicated procedures into simpler, step-by-step processes.
  • Have an emergency plan: Be ready in case of emergency by keeping a working fire extinguisher nearby, a fully stocked first-aid kit on-hand and a list of emergency numbers by the phone.

Home safety checklist

  Yes
 No
Do I need to store the scatter rugs and secure the carpet to prevent falls?     
Are the stairways safe for the person I am caring for?    
Is he able to use the electrical appliances in the kitchen and bathroom safely?    
Should the hot water heater temperature be lowered?    
Are there any medications, cleaning substances or gardening chemicals that should be locked away?    
Do I need to be there when he has a cigarette?    
Should I lock some of the doors or do I need to move the location of the locks on the doors?    
Should I consider installing some safety equipment in the bathroom (e.g., grab bars, elevated toilet seat, non-slip mat)?    
Does the lighting sufficiently eliminate shadows that may cause confusion?    
Are there items that confuse him (e.g., pictures, mirrors)?    

This information is taken from the Alzheimer Journey, Module 2: On the Road. You can get a copy from your local Alzheimer Society.

Last Updated: 08/07/12
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