Minimizing household dangers and providing safe home health care for dementia patients can be simple and effective with proper preparation. Caregivers of a loved one with dementia can easily improve home safety in order to help them live better and to ensure a comfortable environment.
Create a “wander loop” that allows the patient to move around freely.
Use reflector tape to create a guidance path into commonly used rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen.
Cover electrical outlets and radiators.
Lock doors to basements and garages.
Lock cabinets containing liquor, medications, cleaning supplies and toxic substances.
Remove firearms from the home or store them in a locked cabinet. Keep bullets separate.
For home safety, install safety locks and alarms on doors and gates.
Eliminate glare from counters and floors by covering shiny surfaces, and remove lamps and lighting that may create confusing shadows.
Remove mirrors for dementia patients with hallucinations.
Keep car keys out of reach or in a locked compartment.
Do not allow unattended smoking.
Hire an aide who is certified and trained to work with dementia patients and is under the supervision of a nurse.
Constantly reassess your loved one’s abilities with the help of a nurse or physician. Make necessary changes in dementia care as the illness progresses, for the better or worse.
RENATA GELMAN, RN and BSN, is a clinical manager for Partners in Care, the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of private personal and home health care services and an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She supervises and coordinates clinical areas of the private care division conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of RN field nursing professionals.