Safeguard your home for seniors with dementia
Safeguarding your family’s kitchen is key to providing a more secure environment for seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s and other dementia types. A few simple precautions can help your family provide a comfortable home for your loved one while ensuring home safety for your entire family.
1. Hide (and lock away) things that you don’t want swallowed.
Many kitchen essentials are not meant to be ingested, and some can be fatal if swallowed. Find a secure place (preferably not easy for your loved one to reach) to hide the drain opener, dish detergent, ant poison, and other toxic items. If possible, lock the cabinet.
2. No cutting allowed.
You need knives and other sharp objects, but make these as inaccessible as possible also. These items may include glasses and breakable dishes; again, if you can store them in a difficult-to-reach place and lock them away when you’re not using them, that’s best. Keeping your breakables in such places may be inconvenient, but you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
3. Watch the electrical gadgets.
If you’re not using the blender or the toaster, unplug it (and if possible, put it away). If you have washed the blades of your food processor, don’t leave them to dry in the sink rack; dry them and put them away.
4. Dishes, meet cabinets.
Sometimes it may seem as though either you or your dishwasher is going full steam all the time, but do your best to put items in your dishwasher or sink rack away as soon as possible, so that sharp forks, knives, and other potentially problematic items don’t get accidentally taken away.
5. Locks are your friend.
Putting locks on cabinets, refrigerators, dishwashers, and oven doors can be important if your loved one’s dementia is at a stage at which getting things from the kitchen can be a problem. Usually plastic child-proof locks, which you can open relatively easily, are sufficient.
6. Flame off.
Make sure that your stove and oven can’t be accidentally turned on (and then left on). There are knob covers that can help, and some units come with automatic locking options that requires codes to unlock.
7. Rethink the garbage disposal.
Can you live comfortably without your garbage disposal? If so, you may want to disconnect it; if not, cover the sink drain opening when you’re not using the garbage disposal.
8. Keep your cords dry.
Make sure that your electrical cords aren’t near water. Cover up electrical sockets whenever possible with childproof plastic inserts.
Suit your lifestyle when addressing home safety
Creating a comfortable environment for you and your aging parent take a bit of creativity and flexibility. However, the more independence that you can ensure for your loved one may help preserve their dignity and self-assurance.