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Safe Homes for Dementia Patients

Feb 10, 2015 8:46:00 AM

Dementia patients are more prone to certain safety risks in the home. In the past, seniors were often moved to nursing homes once dementia symptoms began to manifest. However, allowing seniors that have dementia to stay in the home has shown to have many benefits. Alterations to the home can be made to ensure safe homes for dementia patients.


Dementia Effects on Safety

Dementia causes both mental and physical changes. Physical changes may affect balance and mobility, making it more difficult for seniors to navigate the home. Physical changes may also affect vision, hearing, and sensory perceptions. Seniors may be more likely to trip over objects or touch hot or sharp surfaces due to these changes.

Mental Changes

Mental changes may affect memory, causing seniors to forget how to use home appliances or recognize familiar places. Seniors may forget how to get around within the home or may believe that they are not at home. Dementia patients may also become fearful or suspicious and try to escape the home.

Making the Home Safer

When making changes to the home, a caregiver should attempt to view the home through the eyes of the dementia patient. Caregivers can test the ease of leaving the home without being noticed to decide how best to mitigate wandering risks. Caregivers can also assess all dangerous objects and appliances around the home and determine ways to reduce patient access to these.

Hiding Locks and Outdoor Access

In order to mitigate wandering risks, it may be best to install locks that are hidden from view on doors with outdoor access. This can be done by placing locks very high or very low on the door. Caregivers can also cover doors with sheets or murals so that patients do not immediately recognize the exit point.

Weapons and Dangers

Weapons in the home should be disabled or removed. Dementia patients may become confused and harm loved ones or caregivers. Dangerous substances such as medications and cleaning products should be kept out of reach, as well. Appliances such as ovens should have safety locks installed to prevent dementia patients from being burned or starting fires.

Fall Hazards

Care should be taken to reduce fall hazards within the homes of dementia patients. Ensuring that hallways and rooms are well-lit can help to reduce these risks. Removing clutter and clearing walkways may also help to prevent falls. Any slippery surfaces should have non-slip runners or carpeting installed.

Topics: Alzheimer's and Dementia

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