Every year, millions of Americans injure themselves in their own homes. Cuts, burns, and falls can be minor, but a concerning number lead to serious problems, lifelong issues, and even death.
If you live with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, the risk increases significantly, so it’s essential to create a safe environment, utilizing safety locks, handrails, grab bars, and other methods to keep them secure.
The following home safety tips can help you prepare your home for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Basic Home Safety Tips
Stairs should be right at the top of your home safety checklist. Make sure there are light switches at the top and the bottom, or that they include lighting that tracks the user up the stairs and ensures they are constantly illuminated.
You should also address whether or not the patient can actually climb the stairs unaided. Even if they can do that now, will they be able to do it in several months or years when their condition has worsened?
If not, consider a stairlift or home elevator. At the very least, you can fit additional handrails and cover any wooden or laminate stairs with a nonslip material, such as a carpet.
Bathroom Safety Tips
Walk-in showers and bathtubs can reduce the risk of harm in the bathroom, which is where most accidents occur in people with limited mobility. A walk-in bathtub has a low lip and a secure door that locks firmly once the user is inside.
Not only are these tubs much safer due to their low entry points, grab bars, and non-slip surfaces, but they also have much deeper bases to allow for greater submergence. Additionally, some may feature water jets and air jets for hydrotherapy.
If you don’t want to go through the expense of fitting a new bathtub, think about installing a shower chair or a bath chair instead.
Grab bars should be placed near the toilet, as well as the bath, allowing your loved one to lower themselves on and off the toilet seat.
Faucet covers can be applied in the bathtub. These rubber covers will soften the blow if your loved one falls and strikes the faucet. The water heater should also be set to a lower and safer temperature, and locks on bathroom doors should be removed just in case you can’t gain access during an emergency.
Finally, if you keep medicines, bleach, and other harmful substances in the bathroom, make sure these are secured using childproof caps and cupboard locks.
Kitchen Safety Tips
The kitchen may seem like an incredibly hazardous place, but as long as your loved one knows not to use appliances it’s easy to make it safe.
The first step is to remove all cleaning supplies and make sure they are locked away. The garbage disposal should be disconnected, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors installed, and emergency numbers clearly displayed.
Bedroom Safety Tips
If you have electric blankets and heating pads, consider getting rid of them or making sure they will cut off if they have been inactive for a prolonged period of time. Adjustable beds can help your loved one get in and out of bed, but you can also install grab bars.
For extra protection, you might want to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the bedroom or on the second floor of the house. Emergency phone numbers should also be placed on the second floor, just to make sure they are within reach at all times.
Use a monitoring device with a motion sensor to detect when the patient is climbing out of bed and may need assistance. A device like this can also warn you when they are having issues getting into bed and when they have suffered a trip or fall in the bedroom.
Living Room Safety Tips
Limit the use of extension cords, place electrical appliances close outlets, and cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plugs. If there is anything cluttering the space, get rid of it or move it against the wall, especially if it’s not at eye level.
Install an answering machine so your loved one doesn’t feel like they need to rush to the phone when it rings, and use decals to mark windows and glass doors. Reconsider open fireplaces, remove frayed rugs that could be tripping hazards, and don’t put heavy coffee tables or stools in the middle of the room.
Outdoor Safety Tips
Even if your loved one is suffering from the latter stages of the disease, it’s important to give them access to the outside world, albeit with supervision.
Make sure all exits are wheelchair friendly or have support rails to help them as they leave and exit. Ramps can be fitted for additional support and foliage can be cut back where needed. Altogether, reducing the obstacles that prevent them from entering and exiting their home can be done with ease.
If you store fuel outdoors, make sure it is locked away, and prepare to remove ice and snow from your ramps and driveway during the winter months.
Garage and Shed Safety Tips
It’s best that your loved one doesn’t spend too much time in the garage or shed, as these locations can be filled with hazards, including cleaning products and power tools. To be extra sure these things are secured, keep dangerous products in locked places, and secure cars, bikes, tins of paint, and anything else that can cause harm.
Adopt the same attitude for the laundry room, keeping appliances and cleaning products out of reach where possible.
Other Home Safety Tips
With depth perception issues, disorientation, and memory loss, even the safest home environment can become a minefield. To make sure your home is prepared, keep the following tips in mind:
- Add rubber caps to potentially dangerous corners and faucets
- Use night lights to keep your home illuminated throughout the night
- Use throw rugs to cover potentially slippery surfaces
- Keep car keys and house keys out of reach
- Cover swimming pools and ponds
- Make sure you have working locks