When an elderly parent has dementia, home safety is a constant concern. Fall prevention is one worry. Wandering is another. For most families, a decision must eventually be made about where their loved one will live going forward. Figuring out which option is best can be difficult.
Adult children often consider moving a parent into their home when the parent is no longer safe living alone. Sometimes it’s a short-term solution while the family explores dementia care communities. Other times, the family hopes it will be a long-term solution. Whatever the situation, creating a safe home environment is necessary.
Before a senior loved one moves into your home, make time to creative an environment that is safe and supportive. Here are a few suggestions for doing so:
Identifying potential safety risks around your house is a vital first step. Issues that may present a fall hazard include throw rugs, poor lighting, electric cords, and uneven floors. You’ll also want to install grab bars near the toilet, shower, and bed.
Remember that adults with dementia often lose their ability to exercise good judgment. They don’t recognize potential dangers. This means you need to keep firearms, sharp knives, and tools locked up. Even household cleansers should be stored safely out of site.
If you are concerned about your ability to conduct a home safety assessment, call the senior’s physician. They can refer you to a physical or occupational therapist to complete a professional home assessment.
Even if the senior has been to your home many times before, dementia may cause the environment to feel unfamiliar. You can make it easier for your parent or older loved one to navigate your house by providing visual cues.
Visual cues are often used to support independence for seniors living in dementia care communities. A picture of a shower and toilet on the bathroom door can aid the older adult in recognizing it. Placing a photo of a glass on the cupboard where you store them in the kitchen is another example. The goal is to provide cues that support the senior’s independence and self-esteem.
It’s an unfortunate reality that adults with dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, often wander. Having a home security system that alerts you when a window or exterior door is open will help. Some systems also offer add-on features, such as a pendant or bracelet with GPS tracking. These devices allow you to locate your loved one in real time should they become lost.
Finally, it’s important to remember that a chaotic environment can trigger agitation and wandering. When your household gets hectic and loud, you’ll want to have a quiet space for your loved one to retreat to. It might be as simple as adding a comfortable chair to their bedroom. They can relax and watch television or listen to soothing music until the home is quiet again.
Whether you are looking for an emergency backup plan or a permanent housing solution, one of our senior care advisors can assist you in your search. Our advice is always free for seniors and their families. Call us at 888-514-6461 to get started!