If a loved one who lives with dementia will be staying with you, creating a safe environment is important. These quick tips will help you evaluate your risks and create a safer home.

  1. Lock It Up. Investigate your home for potentially dangerous items. This might include toxic cleaning products, over-the-counter or prescription medications, firearms, large kitchen knives and more. Make sure they are kept under lock and key while your loved one is in the home. Store the key someplace where they can’t find it.
  2. Electronics with Automatic Shut-off. These are great for home safety in general, but of extra importance when someone in the home has memory loss. Electronics and appliance manufacturers are incorporating an automatic shut-off feature in to an increasing number of products ranging from humidifiers to Christmas tree lights. The ones you might find most useful for a loved one with dementia include a curling iron, iron, and coffee pot. It they still cook, a product called CookStop can actually turn off a pot or pan that they have left on the stove too long.
  3. Exterior Doors. If you have a home alarm system, be sure to set it so you hear a chime or other easily recognizable sound if an exterior door is opened. There are also small, inexpensive alarms you can install on each door if you don’t have a security system. They sound an alert when the door is opened if a code hasn’t been entered first.
  4. Poisonous Plants. Someone living with dementia may try to put pieces of a plant or flower in to their mouth. If you are in doubt about the safety of any plant life in your home, it is best to investigate whether it can be poisonous or not. Cornell University maintains a poisonous plant database. It is an easy way to make sure your plants are safe.
  5. Fall Proof your Home. Many types of dementia cause changes in gait and vision. Both can put people at increased risk for a fall. The Fall Prevention Center has some great resources that can help you make an assessment of your home.