Many seniors would prefer to live independently for as long as possible. Your mom may be one of those people, but her progressing dementia means she’ll need extra protections to stay safe in her home.
Common household functions can be difficult for those with memory impairment, so keep these dangers in mind:
1. Kitchen Hazards
The kitchen is probably the most dangerous room in the home for someone with dementia. Sharp knives and the hot oven and stove can lead to accidents or serious injuries. Replace her traditional stove with one that turns off by itself to reduce the chance for burns or fires. Store knives where they’re not easily accessible.
Water can scald Mom while running a bath, cooking or just washing her hands. Make sure the water heater is set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of burns. Also, label the faucet with red and blue to remind Mom which one is hot and which is cold.
As Mom’s dementia worsens, she’ll forget how to get to familiar places and to obey traffic signs. At this point—and likely before—it’s time for her to stop driving. Plan ahead and decide who will pick her up and drive her around her community, whether it’s you or a relative or a taxi service. Look into services that deliver to her door, such as groceries, which reduce the number of trips she’ll have to make.
Mom will have a difficult time managing her finances as her dementia progresses, and you or an appointed agent will need to monitor her activity. While she’s still cogent, gather all important financial (investments, benefits and expenses) and legal (wills and durable powers of attorney) documents. Consider her monthly expenses and help her make a budget based on her income. It may be helpful to speak with a financial adviser to get her finances in order.
Put over-the-counter and prescription medications in a locked cabinet so Mom can’t get to them unless someone is there to administer them. Also keep a daily checklist near the cabinet so every time she takes the medication, it can be checked off.
6. Fall-proof the House
Falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, especially with those who have dementia who often misjudge their surroundings. Remove hazards that could lead to falls, such as rugs, coffee tables and floor lamps. Also, add grab bars in the bathroom and bedroom, and non-slip mats to slippery surfaces.
7. Prepare for Emergencies
Have a list of emergency numbers and addresses in each room within reach. For example, put copies on the fridge, near her favorite chair and on her bedside table. Invest in a home medical alert system that can help you and medical professionals monitor her care.
Dementia can cause people to believe a relative or caregiver is an intruder. To prevent accidents, lock up weapons such as guns, and store things that could be used as a weapon—gardening sheers, power tools, knives, etc.—out of reach as well. Keeping these items secured can help prevent accidents.
There will be a time when Mom can no longer live alone due to her memory impairment. Before that time comes, give Life Care Services a call. We’ll tell you about our memory care communities and help you find the best fit for Mom.