Avoid Wandering And Elopement; Make Sure the Home for Your Elderly Loved One is Safe
Older adults with a cognitive disease such as dementia may wander from their homes and become lost, a behavior known as elopement. With Dementia and other Cognitive Issues, elopement may be intentional, that’s not always the case.
As with all cognitive decline conditions work with your Physician and healthcare professional to ensure the safety of your elderly loved ones.
Regardless, this behavior can be highly problematic for caregivers and families. The following tips can keep your loved one secure and reduce the likelihood of an incident.
Alliance Senior Care provides Specialty In-Home Care Services specifically to address issues with cognitive decline. Call us today for a consultation.
For Home Safety Install Locks and Alarms
Alarms and locks to improve home safety for dementia patients have come a long way. Technology solutions are very easy to use. Consider investing in devices that notify you when your loved one is up and around before they leave the house, such as:
- Audio and video monitoring systems (Many of these can integrate with Smart Home systems such as Alexa and Google Nest)
- Floor mat or seat pad alarms
- Door alarms (which sound when a door is opened)
- Door locks that are hard to open (but easy enough to use in an emergency)
Many of these solutions also provide remote video viewing. There are digital door locks which can be programed to allow only specified people to enter your loved one’s home within a set time frame.
When it comes to sharing access codes only share them with family or professional caregivers.
General Home Safety For Dementia Patients
In general, pale, light-reflecting colors that contrast with the floor are easier for people with dementia to process. However, complex patterns and bright colors can be hard to decipher and overwhelm your loved one.
While home safety for dementia patients is a priority, you should also keep your loved one’s comfort in mind. Try to find a middle ground so their home still feels like home.
If your loved one has a laundry room or similar space, make sure you:
- Install locks or childproof latches on drawers and cabinets where you store cleaning products, detergents, and other supplies.
- Keep your loved one from using the washer and dryer by shutting the doors and taking off large dials. You may need to keep the laundry room locked.
- Your loved one may recognize that the changes to their home are for their own good, but they will still appreciate your consideration throughout the process.
Besides the bathroom, the kitchen is also full of potential hazards. So when you assess the kitchen, consider these home safety tips for patients with dementia:
- Limit your loved one’s access to potentially hazardous appliances with things such as stove safety knobs or eliminating the garbage disposal.
- Remove artificial decorative food items, such as fruit baskets or magnets, to avoid consumption.
- Install childproof locks on cabinets and draws to keep your loved one from accessing cleaning products, fire starters, knives, scissors, and other potentially dangerous items.
- Post emergency contact numbers for family and medical personnel on the fridge or other clearly marked places.
If your loved one has an answering machine, turn ringers on low and program it to turn on after the least number of rings.
Bathrooms pose one of the most significant risks to seniors. Slippery floors, hard surfaces, bathtubs, and more are all problematic. However, you can make this room safer and more accessible for your loved one to use by:
- Installing shower chairs and grab bars close to the toilet, tub, and shower.
- Placing non-slip mats in front of the sink, toilet, tub, and shower (including inside the tub and shower).
- Covering the faucet with a foam or rubber cover to avoid injury of your loved one falls while bathing.
- Adding childproof locks on cabinets and drawers to restrict access to certain items such as electrical appliances or medication.
- Lowering the temperature on your water heater to prevent burns (120F or lower).
Removing door locks keeps your loved one from unintentionally locking themself in the bathroom.
Your loved one may spend most of their time in the living room. While you want them to feel comfortable in their surroundings, it’s also important to address things that could cause an accident, including:
- Eliminating clutter such as old newspapers and periodicals
- Arranging furniture to create clear walkways
- Moving cords and getting rid of loose rugs
- Limiting access to plastic bags and decorative items
- Replacing large houseplants that could be dangerous if consumed
- Making sure the room is well-lit
Lastly, if your loved one has a fireplace, remove anything they could use to start a fire. Never leave an older adult with dementia alone if there is an open fire.
A few ways to make your loved one’s bedroom safer include:
- Use baby monitors or other monitoring systems that alert you if your loved one requires assistance. This is especially beneficial for those with advanced dementia.
- Avoid space heaters, which can be a fire hazard. If your loved one needs an electric blanket or heating pad, watch the temperature.
- Add night lights if necessary, especially in the hallway. If your loved one often wakes up during the night to use the restroom or get a drink, encourage them to do so before bedtime.
- Remove full-length mirrors, as people with dementia may not recognize their reflection from reality, which could cause fear or confusion.
Assess any exits, fences, gates, steps, and walkways outside your loved one’s home that could increase the risk of falling, wandering, or other accidents. There are many ways to improve safety in these areas, such as:
- Put stickers or brightly colored tape on glass panes since older adults with dementia or visual impairments could run into glass doors.
- Install fencing and locks around the yard, including separate gates around the swimming pool.
- Make sure walkways and steps are well-lit, even, and safe to use during rain, snow, or ice.
- Check for fire hazards, including locking the grill cover and removing access to gas tanks, gasoline, and fire starters.
- Remove ladders or other tools in the garage or shed that could harm your loved one in an accident.
Resources About Home Safety for Dementia Patients
The NIA ADEAR Center offers a vast library of free information about Alzheimer’s and dementia for families, caregivers, and health professionals. You can contact the ADEAR Center by calling 800-438-4380 or emailing email@example.com.
To learn more about how In-Home Care can help improve your loved ones’ quality of life, call Alliance Senior Care at 248-274-2170. It’s not just In-Home Care, it is Integrated Care.
Home Care Services are an excellent resource for family caregivers and seniors alike.
Alliance Senior Care Home Care services offer a wide range of services providing healthcare, daily living assistance, transportation to and from Doctor’s appointments and tailored care services for additional circumstances.