How to Make Homes Safer for Dementia Patients
While some people diagnosed with dementia will move into a residential home where they can receive 24/7 care, other families will choose to help their loved one remain in their own home. As many living with dementia can find change distressing and do not cope well with communal living, in-home care is often the best option. Surrounded by familiar things and surroundings, a loved one can retain a sense of independent living with private care at home, at the same time as receiving all the support they need to carry out basic daily tasks, which may become more difficult as the condition progresses.
If your loved one has a dementia diagnosis and needs home care, it is vital to ensure their house is as safe and free from risk as possible. Whether you are their caregiver or you have found a live-in carer to support them, there are certain things you can do to minimise dangers around the home and provide your loved one with a safe environment.
The Challenges of Dementia
People with dementia face a number of challenges that may make continuing to live at home difficult. As the condition progresses, their judgement will become impaired, and they may forget how to work household appliances, or not remember to turn them off. Being unable to recognise particular rooms or items around the home may become an issue, and they may experience difficulties with balance, mobility and depth perception, meaning they are more likely to suffer a fall or hurt themselves on furniture. People with dementia can also become easily confused or fearful, particularly when things go wrong or routines are disrupted.
If you want to support your loved one to live in their own home, you need to take a critical look at each room and evaluate how these challenges might affect them. Pinpointing areas of risk and taking steps to minimise the dangers should be a priority.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
If you live with your loved one or employ a full-time Alzheimer’s caregiver for them, it is unlikely they will be left unsupervised in the kitchen. Nevertheless, fitting cookers and gas-supplied appliances with automatic cut-offs is a sensible precaution. Also, make sure that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are fully functioning, and remove kitchen rugs or mats to reduce the risk of your loved one tripping on them.
You or your loved one’s private live-in care worker should schedule a regular fridge clear-out, to remove any food which has gone past its use-by date. You should also store cleaning products, knives and other sharp tools in a locked drawer so that you can supervise their use. Someone with dementia might not be able to work out where things are stored, and labelling cupboards and drawers can help. Try and group similar items together, to reduce the likelihood of your loved one injuring themselves as they hunt for what they need.
In the bathroom, ensure that all taps are clearly marked in red and blue to minimise the risk of your loved one scalding themselves with hot water. Again, remove any mats which might pose a trip hazard and install grab rails around the toilet and the shower or bath. You should also add textured pads to any potentially slippery surfaces, and remove the lock from the bathroom door, to ensure your relative cannot accidentally lock themselves in.
Medication should be kept locked away, as should any cleaning products, and always supervise your loved one if they are using a hair dryer or razor.
Mikis’ care story
In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care. They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.
Bedrooms and living rooms
It’s sensible to avoid the use of electric blankets and monitor the use of heating pads. Installing night lights both in the bedroom itself and between the bedroom and bathroom can be of great help to someone with dementia.
In the other areas of the house, remove any objects which might cause an obstruction and increase the likelihood of a fall, and ensure that all rugs are either removed or securely fastened down. Make sure that all rooms are well-lit and that there is plenty of room to manoeuvre, particularly if your loved one needs a wheelchair or walking aid. It is also a good idea to disguise outdoor locks, if possible, to prevent your loved one from leaving the house without you being aware of it.
All power tools and objects with sharp edges should be kept securely locked away, and chemicals or paints should be stored in a garage or shed, which your loved one cannot access. Make sure that car keys are never left unattended and lock outer gates when they’re not in use, to minimise the risk of your relative wandering out into the street.
If you are unable to provide your loved one with the care they need, then employing a live-in carer is a good option. With support from a caregiver trained in dementia care, you can be sure that your loved one is looked after round-the-clock, and someone is on hand should there be any accidents or injuries. A live-in carer will also be able to monitor dangers in the home, and because they are present 24/7, they can routinely assess any potential hazards and supervise cooking and bathroom trips if necessary.
Maintaining a sense of independence and control is important for those with dementia, as is having the familiarity of their own living space and routines at home. With sensible precautions and a few minor adaptations to their house, you can enable your loved one to continue living at home for as long as possible.
Alzheimer's: How to Care for Ageing Parents
There may come a time when we realise our parents or relatives aren’t able to live alone any longer. Old age and age-related issues such as Alzheimer’s create safety concerns, and these become a constant worry. However, we neither want them to move into a home nor do they wish to live in residential care. The question then arises whether live-in care is an option. Can care given by a live-in caregiver be a better option, and is it an affordable one?
Alzheimer's: what you need to know to provide the right care for your loved one
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be painful and upsetting, both for the person receiving the news and for their family and friends. You will almost certainly be concerned about how this condition will impact their day-to-day lives, both now and as it progresses. Alzheimer’s Disease affects a person’s memory but it can also mean they struggle with routine daily tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking and eating, and they may no longer be able to continue living independently. They might also exhibit challenging behaviour, which can be difficult to deal with.
Care for the Elderly: Grooming and Hygiene Guide
Maintaining good personal hygiene is important as your loved one ages, but it is not always easy to intervene if you feel they are not coping well. Poor hygiene can result in uncomfortable infections and skin complaints, so to avoid this, you or your loved one’s caregiver may have to encourage them tactfully to accept some assistance. They may be more willing to agree to the support on offer if they realise that it will enable them to retain a level of independent living.
Caregiver Tips: How to Care for Elderly Parents
Caring for elderly parents is a role reversal that few people find particularly easy. For those of the older generation, it means having to give up a degree of independence and their life-long role as the parent figure. For the adult child, taking on the responsibility of parenting your own parent can be difficult to come to terms with. However, there are steps you can take to minimise the problems.
Dementia Live-in Care: How to Find a Carer
If you have a loved one who is living with dementia, you will want to ensure that they enjoy the best quality of life they can. Care at home is an ideal solution, but finding a caregiver you can rely on to provide support and companionship 24 hours a day is not always straightforward. There two main options when searching for a live-in carer for your loved one; private arrangements or employing a specialist care provider.