Dementia is often difficult both for the person living with it and for the family members who need to take care of him or her. In order to prevent health risks, extra precautions need to be taken in the home as the disease progresses. While memory loss is the most identifiable trait of dementia, and most safety measures revolve around it, it’s also important to remember other physical and mental risks. There are many things that affect a patient’s life expectancy. This is especially important as certain sicknesses and injuries become more common as patients age. If you have a loved one who is living with dementia, here are some of the steps that need to be taken in order to keep them healthy and safe.

Get a Lockbox

Remember that dementia affects many cognitive abilities, which means that medication must be taken regularly but in controlled amounts to prevent overdoses. Handling medications and ensuring that they’re being taken properly helps to maintain overall health. As dementia progresses, your loved one will need someone else to dispense medications at the appropriate intervals. Getting a lockbox for these items will ensure that they can be managed effectively. Make sure to have the medication sheet in this lockbox so that someone can examine this list to ensure that the meds are being dispensed in the correct manner.

Look at Tripping Hazards

Having the appropriate amount of lighting in the home is essential to preventing trips and falls. Add lighting into areas that receive a lot of traffic, such as the hallways and common areas. Another item that will need to be adjusted are loose rugs and other tripping hazards. Consider sealing carpet edges as well. Stairs may be another area to focus your lighting efforts. It may even become necessary to rearrange the home in order to make navigating the stairs a thing of the past. As a helpful resource, you can use the AARP’s home safety checklist to go through the patient’s house and ensure that areas you may not have thought to look into are made safer for your loved one.

Look to Pest Prevention

Pests pose a health hazard to more than just those with dementia, but patients with dementia have a higher risk of getting sick or having infections. Ants and other pests can track in bacteria that can result in your loved one becoming ill. Make sure to keep countertops and floors clean and ensure your loved one isn’t leaving food in odd places where they might attract pests. Look into commercial pest control so that you can keep the home environment free of these disease-spreading vermin. Schedule the pest company to return on regular intervals so that you can protect your loved one to the best of your ability. This will eliminate the possibility of having an infestation occur in the home.

Consider Home Upgrades

There are a variety of ways to upgrade your home to make it safer for those with Dementia. Focus on upgrading the kitchen, bedroom, and bathrooms to keep your loved one safe. Install locking cabinets in the kitchen in order to safely store knives and other hazardous kitchen items. You may also want to consider installing locking covers for the stove and safety switches. However, make sure to remove locks from bathroom and bedroom doors to prevent your loved one from accidentally locking themselves in or out. It may help to keep a lock on your own bedroom door so you can store necessary items that may be hazardous to one who suffers from dementia. Adding in grab bars to the bathroom and hand-held shower devices could help your loved one to maintain some of their independence and dignity. Consider what will best fit their needs, like a shower chair or raised toilet seat.
Dementia is a hard disease for everyone involved. Remember though, that the person affected most is the loved one who experiences it, and not yourself. Use these ideas to get the home as ready as possible so that you can prevent health risks to loved ones coping with dementia, and always remember to also provide them with love and respect as you navigate these safety hazards. Try to focus on your loved one’s mental and emotional health as well. Giving those who suffer from Dementia gifts that can help them with their illness or comfort them, such as a family photo album or a daily calendar, can help them feel more in control and more loved as dementia progresses. Also remember to take time for your own health if as a caretaker. Getting burned out while helping a loved one will only damage your relationship and increase your loved one’s risk of getting hurt or sick.

Author's Bio: 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening.