If you’re a caregiver for an elderly patient, the spouse of a patient with late-stage dementia, or the child of an elderly parent who lives alone, it’s important to ensure they have a safe place to live, eat, sleep, and bathe. The following checklist can help you to prepare the home.
Go through the questions for each room in the house and make sure they are checked one by one.
Kitchen Safety Checklist
In terms of total accidents, the kitchen is the second-most dangerous room in the home for seniors. However, as far as severity and risk are concerned, it’s number one, as improper safety can lead to everything from food shortages, malnutrition, and improper food hygiene to fires and burns.
- Do they have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand to ensure they get plenty of fiber and nutrients?
- It’s imperative to monitor their consumption as well, making sure they get enough calories throughout the day and that these are obtained from nutritious sources.
- Is the pantry stocked with dried foods, tins, and other goods they can turn to as needed?
- Are they able to do their own shopping or do they need assistance from you, other caregivers, or meal and food delivery services?
- Can a meal be prepared without assistance?
- If so, make sure they are able to do this safely.
- If not, discourage or restrict the use of ovens, hobs, and microwaves.
- Are you able to remove rotten food before it is consumed?
- Do they have proper assistance while eating?
- For example, they may need adult bibs and/or adaptive utensils.
Bathroom Safety Checklist
The bathroom is where most elderly accidents occur. Wet floors become slippery, the bathtub becomes an unscalable obstacle, and the constant need to get onto and off the toilet increases the risk of strain and injury.
- Can they use the toilet without assistance?
- If not, look into toilet seat risers, toilet frames, and commodes.
- Are incontinence suppliers provided as needed and are these being disposed of correctly after use?
- Are there any non-slip mats in the bathroom?
- Can they use the bathtub without issue?
- Walk-in tubs, transfer seats, and bath seats can be considered if not.
- Can they safely use the shower?
- Wall-mounted shower seats, grab bars, and handheld showerheads can help if not.
- Is the bathroom clean?
- If they are living alone and have mobility issues, it’s important to check that the bathroom is clean, thus preventing trip/fall hazards and hygiene issues.
- Can they move around with ease?
- Grab bars can be added near the door, bath, shower, and toilet, providing additional support as needed.
Bedroom Safety Checklist
If the patient sleeps alone, the bedroom can be a problematic place, especially when they have late stage dementia. It is difficult to monitor them and make sure they are safe throughout the night.
- Do they try to leave the bed and the bedroom in the middle of the night?
- Motion sensor alarms and pressure pads alert you when they climb out of bed.
- Are they able to dress themselves?
- Depending on their mobility, they may benefit from the dressing assist tools like sock assists and dressing sticks.
- Do they roll around a lot in bed?
- Handrails can be added to prevent them from falling out of bed.
- Are they at risk of pressure sores?
- Memory foam and adjustable mattresses provide support as needed. Sores should also be monitored and cleaned.
General Mobility Checklist
Think about how they will walk around the house, moving from the bedroom to the toilet and from the living room to the kitchen.
- Can they walk unaided?
- Canes and walking sticks help in the home while scooters and walkers help outside.
- Are they able to get transportation as needed?
- Can they sit down and stand up with ease?
- If not, look into lift chairs, transfer poles, and chair supports.
- Can they ascend and descend the stairs?
- Depending on their level of mobility, consider everything from handrails to stairlifts.
- Do you have grab bars placed around the home to provide additional support?
- Do they have any bruises, cuts, scars, or breaks that indicate regular falls?
- What happens if they fall and can’t get up?
- When caregivers are not around, consider a mobile alert system with a built-in fall detection feature. This will alert a friend, family member, healthcare professional, or caregiver when they fall.
Medications and Health Checklist
As their mobility declines, it’s important to ensure their health stays strong, lest they encounter additional problems that worsen their living conditions or make life harder for them.
- Do they have any dental issues and are they seeing a dentist regularly?
- Are they a healthy weight?
- Look out for sudden weight loss or weight gain, as it may be a sign of a serious illness.
- Do they have good vision and hearing?
- Are they taking their medications as and when needed?
- Automatic pill dispensers can help if they are struggling to meet doctors’ orders.
- Is assistance required when taking medication or using assistive treatments?
Communication and Maintenance
If they live alone, they will be responsible for answering the phone, opening the door, paying the bills, and more. This is a big ask for someone who has problems with mobility and cognition.
- Can they communicate with friends and strangers?
- Are they at risk of scams and other criminal activity?
- If so, caution is advised, and they should be prevented or discouraged from answering the phone and opening the door.
- Are they at risk of wandering off and getting lost?
- Mobile GPS devices can keep track of them inside and outside of the home.
- Can they clearly communicate their needs to caregivers and healthcare professionals?
- Do they display any signs of memory loss?
- In cases of rapidly deteriorating dementia, they may need around-the-clock care. You can also look into services provided by assisted living facilities.