- February 8, 2021
To keep your loved one safe and give yourself some peace of mind, check out these recommendations to improve home safety for dementia patients.
Updated August 10, 2022
As a family caregiver, you’ve probably combed dozens of checklists for home safety for dementia patients. You’ve added and removed everything from handrails to loose rugs to non-slip mats to ensure your loved one’s comfort and safety as they age in place.
But family caregivers caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s also have other concerns. Elopement and wandering are among the most common, but there are other issues to prepare for. For this reason, you must regularly assess your loved one’s home if they have a cognitive disease.
To keep your loved one safe and give yourself some peace of mind, check out these recommendations to improve home safety for dementia patients.
Assessing Home Safety For Dementia Patients
Home safety for dementia patients can help address concerns brought on by the mental and physical changes that pose a detriment to your loved one’s health and safety, such as:
- Judgment, such as forgetting how to use everyday objects and appliances.
- Sense of time and place, including getting lost in their neighborhood.
- Behavior, such as confusion, fear, or suspicion.
- Physical capabilities, such as balance problems.
- Sensory changes such as vision, hearing, depth perception, etc.
So before you go through your loved one’s home, consider their health, abilities, and behaviors. For example, do they struggle to use stairs? Do they wander or move about the house at night? Do they have a history of falling?
Once you consider these questions, examine each room for possible risks and record any home modifications you think would be beneficial. Remember that your loved one’s surroundings are easier to modify than their behavior. As your loved one’s condition progresses, you must regularly reassess their capabilities.
Talking To Your Loved One About Driving
Driving is an important aspect of home safety for dementia patients. It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to keep driving after a diagnosis. If your loved one continues to do so, make sure you continuously assess their judgment, safety, and driving abilities. Discuss your concerns with their doctor and look for online resources to help you talk to your parents about giving up driving.
Keep in mind that your loved one might feel that giving up the keys threatens their independence. They may be afraid of becoming isolated, so think of several options you can propose before you talk.
Similarly, you should assess your loved one’s ability to safely use bikes, golf carts, tractors, lawnmowers, and other vehicles. If they can no longer drive, they might try to get around with another form of transportation. If you feel they pose a danger to themselves or others, find a way to prevent access.
Home Safety For Dementia Patients To Avoid Wandering And Elopement
Home safety for dementia patients is often necessary to avoid wandering and elopement.Older adults with a cognitive disease such as dementia may wander from their homes and become lost, a behavior known as elopement.While elopement may be intentional, that’s not always the case. Regardless, this behavior is highly problematic for caregivers and families. The following tips can keep your loved one secure and reduce the likelihood of an incident.
Install Alarms And Locks
Alarms and locks to improve home safety for dementia patients have come a long way, so consider investing in devices that notify you when your loved one is up and around before they leave the house, such as:
- Audio and video monitoring systems
- Floor mat or seat pad alarms
- Door alarms
- Door locks that are hard to open (but easy enough to use in an emergency)
You can program digital door locks to allow only specified people to enter your loved one’s home within a set timeframe. Only give the code to those you trust if you invest in these devices.
Ensure Easy Identification
This recommendation is more of a general tip than a suggestion about home safety for dementia patients. Make sure your loved one carries several forms of ID, emergency contact information, and verification of their diagnosis in their wallet and clothing. If they remove a piece of clothing or lose their wallet, they still have something on them. A medical bracelet or pendant is also a good idea, as it is more difficult to lose.
Use GPS Tracking
If your loved one has a smartphone, set up GPS tracking and make sure you can access it. This technology will make it easier to find them if they leave their house or monitor them if they travel alone.
But suppose your loved one doesn’t have a phone. In that case, you can purchase a personal emergency response system (PERS) or another emergency medical alert with built-in GPS capabilities. They can wear these devices on clothing, attached to keys, kept in the car, or placed anywhere else. Make sure the GPS functions without WiFi so you can monitor your loved one no matter where they may be.
General Home Safety For Dementia Patients
In general, pale, light-reflecting colors that contrast with the floor are easier for people with dementia to process. However, complex patterns and bright colors can be hard to decipher and overwhelm your loved one.
While home safety for dementia patients is a priority, you should also keep your loved one’s comfort in mind. Try to find a middle ground so their home still feels like home.
If your loved one has a laundry room or similar space, make sure you:
- Install locks or childproof latches on drawers and cabinets where you store cleaning products, detergents, and other supplies.
- Keep your loved one from using the washer and dryer by shutting the doors and taking off large dials.
You may need to keep the laundry room locked if possible.
Besides the bathroom, the kitchen is also full of potential hazards. So when you assess the kitchen, consider these home safety tips for patients with dementia:
- Limit your loved one’s access to potentially hazardous appliances with things such as stove safety knobs or eliminating the garbage disposal.
- Remove artificial decorative food items, such as fruit baskets or magnets, to avoid consumption.
- Install childproof locks on cabinets and draws to keep your loved one from accessing cleaning products, fire starters, knives, scissors, and other potentially dangerous items.
- Post emergency contact numbers for family and medical personnel on the fridge or other clearly marked places.
- If your loved one has an answering machine, turn ringers on low and program it to turn on after the least number of rings.
Bathrooms pose one of the most significant risks to seniors. Slippery floors, hard surfaces, bathtubs, and more are all problematic. However, you can make this room safer and more accessible for your loved one to use by:
- Installing shower chairs and grab bars close to the toilet, tub, and shower.
- Placing non-slip mats in front of the sink, toilet, tub, and shower (including inside the tub and shower).
- Covering the faucet with a foam or rubber cover to avoid injury of your loved one falls while bathing.
- Adding childproof locks on cabinets and drawers to restrict access to certain items such as electrical appliances or medication.
- Lowering the temperature on your water heater to prevent burns (120F or lower).
- Removing door locks keeps your loved one from unintentionally locking themself in the bathroom.
Your loved one may spend most of their time in the living room. While you want them to feel comfortable in their surroundings, it’s also important to address things that could cause an accident, including:
- Eliminating clutter such as old newspapers and periodicals
- Arranging furniture to create clear walkways
- Moving cords and getting rid of loose rugs
- Limiting access to plastic bags and decorative items
- Replacing large houseplants that could be dangerous if consumed
- Placing sticks on glass doors and windows
- Making sure the room is well-lit
Lastly, if your loved one has a fireplace, remove anything they could use to start a fire. Never leave an older adult with dementia alone if there is an open fire.
A few ways to make your loved one’s bedroom safer include:
- Use baby monitors or other monitoring systems that alert you if your loved one requires assistance. This is especially beneficial for those with advanced dementia.
- Avoid space heaters, which can be a fire hazard. If your loved one needs an electric blanket or heating pad, watch the temperature.
- Add night lights if necessary, especially in the hallway. If your loved one often wakes up during the night to use the restroom or get a drink, encourage them to do so before bedtime.
- Remove full-length mirrors, as people with dementia may not recognize their reflection from reality, which could cause fear or confusion.
Assess any exits, fences, gates, steps, and walkways outside your loved one’s home that could increase the risk of falling, wandering, or other accidents. There are many ways to improve safety in these areas, such as:
- Put stickers or brightly colored tape on glass panes since older adults with dementia or visual impairments could run into glass doors.
- Install fencing and locks around the yard, including separate gates around the swimming pool.
- Make sure walkways and steps are well-lit, even, and safe to use during rain, snow, or ice.
- Check for fire hazards, including locking the grill cover and removing access to gas tanks, gasoline, and fire starters.
- Remove ladders or other tools in the garage or shed that could harm your loved one in an accident.
Resources About Home Safety For Dementia Patients
NIA Alzheimer's and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
The NIA ADEAR Center offers a vast library of free information about Alzheimer’s and dementia for families, caregivers, and health professionals. You can contact the ADEAR Center by calling 800-438-4380 or emailing email@example.com.
The federal government provides resources and information about cognitive diseases like dementia through its online portal. You may be able to find several community-based or financial help for home safety for dementia patients.
Family Caregiver Alliance
A support member from the Family Caregiver Alliance can connect you to additional resources for home safety for dementia patients. Call 800-445-8106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Eldercare Locator is another resource from the federal government. Call 800-677-1116 or email email@example.com.
MeetCaregivers Can Help
Dementia affects everybody differently, and your loved one’s needs and abilities can change over time. For this reason, you should regularly assess your loved one’s home safety — both in and out of the house — to guarantee their security, safety, and comfort.
If your loved one with dementia requires specialized care, we can help. Call us at 1-888-541-1136 to ask about home safety assessments or Find A Caregiver today.
For more resources for caregivers and seniors, visit the Blog.
- AARP. “Caregivers Creating a Safe Home for Those with Dementia.” AARP, 1 Dec. 2017, www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2017/dementia-home-safety.html.
- Goyer, Amy. “Home Safety Tips and Tactics for Dementia Caregivers.” AARP, 6 Feb. 2017, www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2017/wandering-dementia-concerns-ag.html.
- “Home Safety.” Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/safety/home-safety.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Essential Home Safety Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/home-safety-tips/art-20046785.
- NIH National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Home Safety Checklist for Alzheimer’s Disease. NIA.NIH.gov. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/home-safety-checklist-alzheimers-disease. Content reviewed: May 18, 2017.
Place a latch or deadbolt either above or below eye level on all doors. Remove locks on interior doors to prevent the person living with dementia from locking themselves in. Keep an extra set of keys hidden near the door for easy access. Keep walkways and rooms well-lit.What are three tips for helping people with dementia? ›
- Reduce frustrations. A person with dementia might become agitated when once-simple tasks become difficult. ...
- Be flexible. Over time, a person with dementia will become more dependent. ...
- Create a safe environment. Dementia impairs judgment and problem-solving skills, increasing a person's risk of injury.
Reassure the person with a calm voice and gentle touch. Don't argue or try to use logic; Alzheimer's affects memory, and the person may not remember he/she asked the question already. Provide an answer. Give the person the answer that he or she is looking for, even if you have to repeat it several times.What is the most important thing in caring for dementia patients? ›
Allow the person to keep as much control in his or her life as possible. Respect the person's personal space. Build quiet times into the day, along with activities. Keep well-loved objects and photographs around the house to help the person feel more secure.How do I prepare my home for dementia? ›
- Avoid clutter. Recycle newspapers and magazines. ...
- Mark glass doors, windows and furniture. Place a decal on glass at the person's eye level to help him or her see glass panes.
- Take caution when using fireplaces. Don't leave the person with dementia alone with an open fire in the fireplace.
Safety is important for everyone, but the need for a comprehensive safety plan becomes vital as dementia progresses. Taking measures to improve safety can prevent injuries and help the person with Alzheimer's feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed and maintain his or her independence longer.How do you calm someone with dementia? ›
Use calming phrases such as: "You're safe here;" "I'm sorry that you are upset;" and "I will stay until you feel better." Let the person know you are there. Involve the person in activities. Try using art, music or other activities to help engage the person and divert attention away from the anxiety.How do you calm a dementia patient at night? ›
Help the person relax by reading out loud or playing soothing music. A comfortable bedroom temperature can help the person with dementia sleep well. Manage medications. Some antidepressant medications, such as bupropion and venlafaxine, can lead to insomnia.What should you not say to a dementia patient? ›
I'm going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: 1) Don't tell them they are wrong about something, 2) Don't argue with them, 3) Don't ask if they remember something, 4) Don't remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and 5) Don't bring up topics that may upset them.What is the best environment for dementia patients? ›
Gardens. A garden offers fresh air, exercise and exposure to sunlight which is vital for wellbeing. People with dementia generally will be less likely to become agitated and distressed if they can have regular access to fresh air and exercise and a quiet space away from others as needed.
One of the most common causes of death for people with dementia is pneumonia caused by an infection. A person in the later stages of dementia may have symptoms that suggest that they are close to death, but can sometimes live with these symptoms for many months.What are the three behavioral problems associated with dementia? ›
Behavioral disturbances in dementia are often globally described as “agitation” including verbal and physical aggression, wandering, and hoarding. These symptoms create patient and caregiver distress, and lead to nursing home placement.What do dementia patients need? ›
As dementia progresses, an individual will eventually require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) (e.g., eating, grooming, mobility) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) (e.g., meal preparation, shopping, financial and medication management) (Karon et al., 2015).What are good finger foods for dementia patients? ›
- French toast cut into bite-size squares.
- Silver dollar pancakes with jam.
- Waffle with cream cheese and jam.
- Graham crackers.
- Cheese cubes.
- Cooked carrot coins and vegetable strips slightly steamed to soften texture.
- Small meatballs, sliced turkey, or meatloaf pieces.
- Give the person a hand massage with lotion.
- Brush his or her hair.
- Give the person a manicure.
- Take photos of the person and make a collage.
- Encourage the person to talk more about subjects they enjoy.
- Make a family tree posterboard.
However, for the most part, the use of various colors, particularly in the environment for those living with dementia, can be helpful in providing quality of care. Color preferences for individuals with dementia are red, blue and green. For instance, blue is a restful color with a calming effect.What kind of environment most helps clients with dementia feel comfortable safe and secure? ›
Adequate lighting should be provided for easy reading or television watching. Some dementia patients may develop a fear of the dark, so a nightlight placed in their room may help. Proper lighting should be available during nighttime hours as well in case your loved one needs to get up and use the bathroom.What equipment can improve the home of a person with dementia? ›
Dementia-friendly household items
clocks with large LCD displays showing the day, date and time. telephones with big buttons. reminder devices that give an audio prompt to help people remember to take medicines or lock the front door.
(ˈseɪftɪ prɪˈkɔːʃən ) a precaution that is taken in order to ensure that something is safe and not dangerous. safety precautions visible everywhere: lifejackets, small boat, inflatable rubber boats. Collins English Dictionary.Why is safety a concern for residents who are confused? ›
Confused residents may be afraid and uncooperative in activities, suspicious of the staff and afraid of anyone who they think are trying to harm them. Others may experience called Sundowner's Syndrome which is disorientation of time and place.
- Try to identify the immediate cause. ...
- Rule out pain as the cause of the behavior. ...
- Focus on feelings, not the facts. ...
- Don't get upset. ...
- Limit distractions. ...
- Try a relaxing activity. ...
- Shift the focus to another activity. ...
- Take a break.
Rapidly progressive dementias or RPDs are extremely rare, but can cause dementia to worsen over weeks and months. RPDs can be caused by complex medical conditions such as Autoimmune conditions, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases – i.e diseases that damage the body's nervous systems.How do you redirect an angry dementia patient? ›
- Buy a few seconds to think. Is your loved one combative about bathing or something else? ...
- Watch nonverbal cues. Use gentle touch, eye contact, and a calm demeanor. ...
- Be creative in your verbal responses. ...
- Focus on what really matters. ...
- Don't try to correct your loved one.
increasing confusion or poor judgment. greater memory loss, including a loss of events in the more distant past. needing assistance with tasks, such as getting dressed, bathing, and grooming. significant personality and behavior changes, often caused by agitation and unfounded suspicion.What time of day is dementia worse? ›
People living with Alzheimer's and other dementia may have problems sleeping or experience increased confusion, anxiety, agitation, pacing and disorientation beginning at dusk and continuing throughout the night (referred to as sundowning).At what stage of dementia do they sleep a lot? ›
Sleeping more and more is a common feature of later-stage dementia. As the disease progresses, the damage to a person's brain becomes more extensive and they gradually become weaker and frailer over time.How do you keep dementia patients busy? ›
- Listen to music. “ ...
- Sort and match up nuts and bolts, or tighten screws. “ ...
- Create a memory bag. “ ...
- Help with clean-up around the home. “ ...
- Prepare food. “ ...
- Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of — and frustrated by — the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe.Should you tell a dementia patient the truth? ›
The person undergoing the assessment for dementia should be allowed to decide if they want to know if the diagnosis is confirmed. In general, if a person is aware that they are going for a diagnosis they will be able to make that choice. It is recommended that a person with dementia be told of their diagnosis.What is dementia friendly? ›
The Alzheimer's Society defines a dementia friendly community as: “A city, town or village where people with dementia are. understood, respected and supported, and confident they can. contribute to community life.
In general, once a patient enters the moderate phase of dementia (the phase in which they require some help with their basic activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and grooming), it is unsafe to leave them alone for even short periods of time.What are the five basic needs of a residential environment? ›
We assume that the human environmental needs can be divided into five levels, i.e. physical, security, leisure, social interaction, and aesthetic. These needs interact in contemporary society.
On average, people with Alzheimer's disease live between three and 11 years after diagnosis, but some survive 20 years or more. The degree of impairment at diagnosis can affect life expectancy.How long does dementia last before death? ›
Systematic review: In a PubMed literature review, we identified only one study that analyzed survival in a large, unscreened sample of people with incident dementia from routine care data. Interpretation: In people with dementia, median time until institutionalization was 3.9 years, and 5.0 years until death.What can trigger dementia? ›
- Infections and immune disorders. ...
- Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities. ...
- Nutritional deficiencies. ...
- Medication side effects. ...
- Subdural hematomas. ...
- Brain tumors. ...
- Normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
Scripture assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even a dementia that may strip a person of her awareness of God's presence (Romans 8:38-29).What are the last stages of dementia before death? ›
Signs of the final stages of dementia include some of the following: Being unable to move around on one's own. Being unable to speak or make oneself understood. Eating problems such as difficulty swallowing.Does moving make dementia worse? ›
To answer your question directly, yes, moving someone at this stage of the game can most definitely cause another decline. But, on the other hand, leaving someone who has already declined to the point they are no longer safe or comfortable in their environment can also cause an equally swift decline.What safety guidelines should be followed for dementia patients? ›
- Removing any potentially dangerous tools, utensils, and machines – or at least securing them out of reach. ...
- Monitor the use of medications and alcohol. ...
- Remove or secure potential toxins. ...
- Address lighting concerns. ...
- Reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Lock the oven door. Use safety latches on doors and cabinets. Install gates, door, or Dutch doors so the kitchen can be closed off but you can still see and be seen. Install an automatic turn-off on the faucet.
Living at home when you have dementia
In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to live at home and enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis.
The nursing interventions for a dementia client are: Orient client. Frequently orient client to reality and surroundings. Allow client to have familiar objects around him or her; use other items, such as a clock, a calendar, and daily schedules, to assist in maintaining reality orientation.What kind of environment most helps clients with dementia feel comfortable safe and secure? ›
The best living environment for a person with dementia is one that helps them to be as happy and independent as possible. Familiarity with environment and routines is important for a person with dementia. The home environment should help them know where they are and help them find where they want to go.What should you not do with dementia? ›
- Don't Ignore Them.
- Don't Talk to Them Like They're a Young Child or a Baby.
- Don't Use Terms of Endearment Instead of Names.
- Don't Assume They're Confused All the Time.
- Don't Quiz Them.
- Provide supervision. In the early stages of dementia, it may be okay for someone to be alone for short periods. ...
- Obscure doors. ...
- Hide signs of leaving home. ...
- Plan meaningful activities. ...
- Prepare your home. ...
- Redirect and validate. ...
- Reduce confusion. ...
- Label and remind.
Dementia-friendly signage can help orientate a person living with dementia and allow them to maintain their independence. These signs can consist of text, images, or a combination of both, and any text should ideally contrast with the background to be easy to read.What are 4 interventions for wandering? ›
- Item Sorting.
- Arts and Crafts.
- Walks in controlled environments.
- Folding Clothes.
- Molding with Clay.
In general, once a patient enters the moderate phase of dementia (the phase in which they require some help with their basic activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and grooming), it is unsafe to leave them alone for even short periods of time.When should dementia patients not live alone? ›
Once a person with dementia starts to need assistance with daily tasks like bathing and dressing, it's likely time for them to stop living alone. These simple challenges indicate that they may no longer have the insight and judgment necessary to deal with emergencies should they arise.Should a person with dementia live alone? ›
People with dementia need to live in environments that best support their safety and quality of life. For some, this may mean living at home with support services, even if there is some risk. The amount and type of support available are important factors in determining if a person can live alone.
Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day. Build quiet times into the day, along with activities. Keep well-loved objects and photographs around the house to help the person feel more secure. Try gentle touching, soothing music, reading, or walks.What makes a good dementia nurse? ›
The skills nurses develop while caring for people with dementia, such as sensitivity, compassion and empathy, are core qualities that all nurses should value as professional strengths.What is the best treatment for dementia? ›
Donepezil (also known as Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Donepezil is also used to treat more severe Alzheimer's disease.