If your parent or other loved one suffers from dementia, then you can make many small changes to the home that will help protect him or her from accidents around the house. Of course, it is important to keep any dangerous objects in the home, such as kitchen knives, in locked cabinets or cases. However, when you make the following four small changes to your loved one’s home, you can also protect him or her from falls, burns, and other household hazards.
1. Lower Their Water Heater Temperature or Install Anti-scald Water Valves
Due to memory impairment and loss of judgment, elderly people suffering from dementia can accidentally scald themselves with hot water very easily if their home’s hot water tank is set at a high temperature (140 degrees F is standard). If your loved one accidentally turns on the hot water instead of the cold at a faucet, he or she can severely burn skin that is in contact with 140-degree F water for just five seconds.
To make hand washing safer for your loved one, you can either set the hot water tank temperature on 120 degrees F or install anti-scald water valves/fixtures throughout the home. While lowering the water heater temperature is faster and easier, anti-scald water valves are a better option if your loved one suffers from a compromised immune system; when a water heater is set at 120 degrees F, Legionella bacteria, which can cause pneumonia, can thrive in the cooler water.
2. Eliminate These Fall Hazards
Since dementia can impair both judgment and spatial awareness, elderly folks suffering from dementia are much more prone to falling around the home than other adults. This fact makes it very important to eliminate all fall hazards from your loved one’s home. Small, loose rugs should be removed from the home, and small appliance cords should never be allowed to span across rooms.
Ideally, all clutter should be kept to a minimum, and shoes, children’s toys, pet toys, and all other small objects should be immediately stored after use and not left lying on the floor. In addition, furniture should be re-arranged as little as possible; if the need for new furniture arises, it is best to place a new furniture piece in the same spot as the old one to minimize the risk of your loved one running into it and falling or experiencing injury.
3. Install Motion Sensor Lights or Keep Nightlights in All Rooms
Elderly people suffering from dementia can simply forget to turn on lights when entering rooms or forget where light switches are located. Since walking in an unlit room can lead to a fall, it is important to help ensure that any room your loved one enters at night is lit whether they turn on a light or not. One easy, affordable way to keep rooms lit at night is to install night lights in all rooms, and make sure to turn them on at dusk.
However, motion sensor lights are a better option to make sure a room is brightly lit when your loved one enters it. Traditional light switches can be replaced with affordable motion sensor light switches that cause the room’s light to turn on as the switch senses your loved one passing by it.
4. Place Labels Throughout the Home
Labels can be very useful when placed around the home of a loved one suffering from dementia. Since your loved one may forget which doors in the home lead to other rooms and which lead outside, place large labels that state “STOP” on those that lead outdoors can prevent your loved one from accidentally wandering outdoors.
Also, label your loved one’s dresser drawers with their contents, such as “shirts” and “pants.” Then place a “TV” label on the television remote, and label each kitchen cabinet your loved one is allowed to access with its contents to help your loved one navigate the home as independently as possible while staying safe.
If your loved one is suffering from dementia, then make then these small changes around the house to keep them safe and seek the help of a good-quality home care provider, like Queen City Home Care.