It’s easy to get overwhelmed when caring for someone with dementia. The disease may start out as simply being a little forgetful, however its quick progression takes many families by surprise. When you have a loved one with dementia, it’s important that their home is not only safe, but that they feel secure in day-to-day life.
In this article, we’ll look at creating a dementia-friendly environment and how in-home caregivers can support your family member with dementia and keep them safe.
Accident-proof the Home
The most urgent need when caring for someone with dementia is reducing the possibility of accidents in the home. As their memory fades, the potential for accidents within the home increases. Start by removing anything that could cause harm.
Alarms and Emergency Information
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors if they aren’t already in place. If they are installed, make sure they’re properly maintained and the battery is working.
- Installing an alarm system that sets off a chime when a door is opened can alert you if your loved one is leaving the home unexpectedly.
- Print emergency contact information that uses large lettering and is easy to read. Put it by all telephones in the home.
Lock Up Harmful Items
- Designate a “danger zone” within the house where you can lock away potentially harmful items.
- Lock away medications so you can make sure they are being taken properly.
- Put away all cleaning supplies and any poisonous liquids.
- Lock up anything that appears edible, but isn’t.
- Lock up all power tools and machinery.
Make The Home Easy to Navigate
- Ensure no wires or cords are in walking areas.
- Have adequate lighting, especially by any steps or stairs, to reduce confusion and falls.
- Keep walkways clear of any obstacles.
- Keep the home clean and clutter-free.
- Remove all throw rugs as they’re easy to trip on.
Remove the Risk of Locking Themselves In
- Keep a spare key outside the home in case your loved one locks themselves (or you) out.
- Remove locks inside the home so there’s no danger of locking themselves in.
- Consider installing a keypad lock to remove the risk of anyone being locked out.
- Install grab rails by the toilet and in the shower to make the bathroom more accessible.
- Purchase a rubber grip pad and chair for the shower floor to reduce the likelihood of slipping.
- Install rails and proper lighting by any stairs.
Create a Safe Kitchen
- Throw away moldy and expired food.
- Keep the pantry well-stocked with fresh and healthy food.
- Put away any appliances they could harm themselves with.
- Install a shut-off valve for the stove.
- Lock the oven door.
- Keep garbage out of sight.
- Install an automatic turn-off on faucets.
- Put monitoring devices, such as baby monitors, in the bedroom or other rooms they may be alone in so you can hear if they need help.
There are a lot of factors we need to be aware of when it comes to home safety. Even the most mundane household items could be dangerous.
Dedicate time to taking inventory of your loved one’s home and ask yourself what could be harmful to them. In-home memory care professionals like our team at Golden Care can help you with this.
When it comes to quality of life, feeling secure is just as important as being safe. For most people, their home is a place where they feel comfortable and protected. After you’ve reduced the likelihood of harm occurring in the home, it’s time to think about how you can provide a feeling of security in their day-to-day home life.
People with dementia often make sense of the world around them through their long-term memory, whereas most people use short-term memory. This difference between how they perceive reality, and what is reality, can create a sense of fear. It’s vital that we interact with them in a way that promotes relaxation and reduces confusion.
A great place to start is adding low-stress activities to their daily routine. Reading picture books, performing easy word searches, or listening to instrumental music can be good activities to start with. When you do these activities, it’s important you let your loved one do it at their own pace. Pushing or rushing them can lead to confusion and frustration.
A relaxing environment can also be achieved through how we communicate. Proper non-verbal communication such as eye contact when speaking and gentle physical contact can help your family member feel secure and cared for.
In conversation, it’s important to provide gentle prompts. Asking difficult or hyper-specific questions can lead to frustration at being unable to recall something. Keeping things casual and open-ended allows your loved one to reminisce at their own pace. You may be surprised at the long-term memories they recall when talking in a relaxing environment.
The last thing you can do to make them feel secure is to provide consistency with care. People with dementia want to be cared for by someone they trust and are familiar with. This may be you, another loved one, or an in-home caregiver that’s built a personal relationship with your loved one.
In-Home Memory Care
In-home care will provide your loved one with expert care while not putting them through the major changes that come with moving to a facility. You can also hire caregivers that specialize in memory and dementia care.
Memory Care aids provide extensive personal support with day-to-day activities while specializing in techniques that stimulate the mind and reduce dementia-related frustrations. They will also provide a personalized memory care plan to counteract the effects of dementia.
At Golden Care, we provide a free consultation to match your loved one with the right caregiver for their needs. We take pride in finding the best match and ensuring your loved one is cared for by an experienced, caring professional.