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Dementia - keeping safe in the home

It is important to make sure the homes of people who have dementia are safe for them.

Safety Tips for the Home

Wandering can be a serious problem for people who have more advanced dementia. These tips may help prevent wandering:

  • Place alarms on all doors and windows that will sound if the doors are opened.
  • Place a "Stop" sign on doors to the outside.
  • Keep car keys out of sight.

To prevent harm when someone with dementia does wander:

  • Have the person wear an ID bracelet or necklace with their name, address, and phone number on it.
  • Tell neighbors and others in the area that the person who has dementia may wander. Ask them to call you or to help them get home if this happens.
  • Fence and close off any areas that may be dangerous, such as a stairwell, deck, a hot tub, or a swimming pool.
  • Consider giving the person a GPS device or a cell phone with a GPS locator embedded in it.

Inspect the person's house, and remove or reduce hazards for tripping and falling.

Do not leave a person who has advanced dementia alone at home.

Lower the temperature of the hot water tank. Remove or lock up cleaning products and other items that may be poisonous.

Make sure the kitchen is safe.

  • Remove knobs on the stove when it is not in use.
  • Lock up sharp objects.

Remove, or store the following in locked areas:

  • All medicines, including the person's medicines and any over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
  • All alcohol.
  • All guns. Separate ammunition from the weapons.

References

Alzheimer's Association. Dementia Care Practice Recommendations for Professionals Working in a Home Setting. 2009. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/phase_4_home_care_recs.pdf. Accessed on May 29, 2014.

Knopman DS. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 409.

Moore, HD, Algase DL, Powell-Cope G, Appelgarth S, Beattie ER. A framework for managing wandering and preventing elopement. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2009;24:208-19.

Update Date: 5/29/2014

Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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