How to Keep Your Loved One With Dementia Safe at Home
Living with someone with dementia can be challenging. It is emotionally draining and physically exhausting to care for an adult who, due to dementia, may not remember you, or isn’t aware of his or her limitations. Of course, there are rewards to caring for a loved one with dementia. You are providing them with a safe and loving environment. Your emotional strength is unmatched.
While they may not acknowledge your love and kindness, remember that if they didn’t have dementia, they would appreciate all that you do. This is someone who loves you, even if they don’t remember.
I took a Alzheimer’s Disease caregiver class a while back and listened to the concerns of the family caregivers. At the time, I had a two year old. As caregivers were discussing the safety concerns they have, I was thinking, huh, we have that issue with our two year old and there are a number of baby proofing products that can help with that issue.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for treating someone with dementia as a toddler. I’m saying that many child safety products have a dual purpose. They can keep our aging loved one safe as well.
Child Safety Products That Work for Older Adults with Dementia
Here are some of my favorite child safety products that can work well for someone with dementia.
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- Door Knob Protectors: If you have a loved one who wanders due to dementia, consider putting a door knob protector on the inside handle of exterior doors to keep them from getting out easily. I never used these in my home because I have arthritic hands and they are extremely difficult to use if you have trouble with your hands.
- Disguise Your Doors: If putting the childproof door knobs will make it difficult for you to use the door knobs, you can consider disguising your doors. I read an article about an assisted living facility that disguises exterior doors so that residents with dementia don’t try to go outside and thought it was pretty smart. They make removable peel and stick wallpaper that wouldn’t be too difficult to put up and won’t permanently alter your door.
- Door and Window Alarm: If your caree is not deterred by the door knob protectors or door disguise, you can install a door or window alarm, that will at least let you know if they do get out.
- Stove Covers: My parents put baby proof knobs on their stove when my kids were young because their knobs were easily accessible. They aren’t too difficult to get around, but they absolutely deterred my kids from playing with the knobs. If your loved one turns on the stove and forgets to turn it off due to his or her dementia, you should consider these knobs so that they can only turn on the stove when you are around to help them. You can also purchase locks to prevent them from opening the stove door if that is a safety issue in your home.
- Cabinet Locks: My grandmother used to forget she took her medication and request more and more medication. Fortunately, at that point, she was no longer ambulatory so she couldn’t get her own pills. If you struggle with a loved one who forgets he or she took medication due to dementia, you may feel more comfortable locking the medication away in a cabinet. Note – we use the magnetic locks and love them. You can’t see the locks from the outside so it doesn’t mess up the look of your cabinets.
Caring for someone with dementia requires so much more effort than standard caregiving. Hopefully these safety hacks can take some of the stress of your shoulders so you can put a little energy towards caring for yourself.