Making the House Safer For My Mother Who Has Alzheimer's Disease

National Institute on Aging

You can take many precautions that will make the house safer, more accessible, and comfortable. Because you are not present, you may want to evaluate the safety of your mother's home during one of your visits (with the understanding that you must quickly correct any real dangers). On future visits, you should be alert for hazards and aware of things you can do to make the house safer.

If you are worried about your parent's safety, don't wait until the next visit. If you feel that your parent is unsafe alone, make note of which behaviors have become most worrisome and discuss these with the primary caregiver and the doctor. Behavior that is unsafe or unhealthy may have become familiar to the primary caregiver. The kitchen in particular presents many opportunities for accidents, especially when a parent misuses appliances or forgets that something is cooking. Discuss your concerns and offer to help adapt the environment to meet your parent's changing safety needs.

If you are concerned about home safety for a parent who has Alzheimer's disease, NIA's free pamphlet, Home Safety for People with Alzheimer's Disease has plenty of helpful suggestions. The Resources section of this booklet has information on getting a copy of this publication.

Consider these principles about home safety for older people:

Think prevention. It is hard to predict or anticipate every problem, but you can go through the house room-by-room and evaluate safety problems. Checking the safety of your parent's home may prevent a hazardous situation. Some easy steps to take:

  • Remind the primary caregiver to lock all doors and windows on the inside and outside to prevent wandering.
  • Make sure all potentially harmful items, such as medications, weapons, machinery, or electrical cords are put away in a safe, preferably locked, place when they're not in use.
  • Use child-resistant caps on medicine bottles and childproof door latches on storage units as well.

Adapt the environment.Because it is easier to change a place than to change a person, consider the following:

  • Install at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps.
  • Place carpet or safety grip strips on stairs.
  • Avoid clutter, which can cause disorientation and confusion.
  • Keep all walk areas free of furniture, and extension and electrical cords.
  • Cover unused outlets with childproof plugs.
  • Make sure all rooms have adequate lighting.

©2007 National Institute of Aging


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