5 dangers in the home for those living with dementia

Sunrise Senior Living  |  April 7, 2017

With roughly over 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association, this condition is more common than not.

In reality, however, the number is likely much higher, as not everyone reports their condition to medical professionals. Characterized by symptoms of dementia, those with Alzheimer's experience a gradual decline in cognitive ability, as it pertains to areas such as social awareness, memory and a grasp of everyday concepts, the Mayo Clinic detailed. 

Given the impact that Alzheimer's can have on understanding, individuals who develop the condition are at a higher risk of falling victim to certain dangers around the home - dangers that pose minimal threats to those without Alzheimer's. This article will take a closer look at some of these threats, explaining what they are and the steps that caregivers can take to minimize risk, either at home or in a care home setting. Read on to learn more:

1. Kitchen hazards
Kitchens are perhaps the most dangerous room in the house for those living with Alzheimer's. There are knives and other utensils that can cause harm, and that's not to mention the stove, microwave and other such appliances that can lead to burns. For example, someone experiencing memory loss may forget to turn off the stove, increasing the risk of fire. Keeping your loved one safe in the kitchen, therefore, is a multifaceted task. The Alzheimer's Association advised that caregivers should invest in appliances that are able to turn off independently. It can also help to store sharp utensils in areas that are not easily accessible, such as high-up cupboards. The source noted that people with Alzheimer's should be kept away from the faucet and sink if possible, due to the risk of burns from hot water. In essence, if an individual living with Alzheimer's can be discouraged from entering the kitchen, their risk of injury will decrease. 

"Kitchens are perhaps the most dangerous room in the house for those living with Alzheimer's."

2. Falling over
Worsening balance is a consequence of getting older, and those with Alzheimer's are particularly vulnerable to falls that can lead to serious injury. Hazards that could lead to falls include loose rugs, hallways that are cluttered, stairways without hand rails and so on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained. Thankfully, removing these hazards is relatively simple: Caregivers are encouraged to ensure that walkways are kept clear at all times, and that loose rugs and carpets are discarded of. Hand rails should also be installed on staircases. An article from Senior Lifestyle recommended making the hand rail a bright color that is visually striking, to help patients recognize where the rail is.

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3. Weapons
While it may seem obvious, weapons such as guns pose a particular threat to both Alzheimer's patients and caregivers. Patients could become confused and mishandle the weapons, putting themselves and others in serious danger. That's why it's imperative for all weapons to be stored properly in a secure safe. 

The kitchen can be a hazardous environment for those living with Alzheimer's.The kitchen can be a hazardous environment for those living with Alzheimer's.

4. Medications
In a similar vein to weapons, medications pose a threat to those with Alzheimer's, as they could become confused and take more medication than they need or medications that they have not been prescribed. U.S. News & World Report strongly advised keeping medications out of reach from those living with the disease and throwing away any old medications that are no longer needed.

5. Hot water
Those with Alzheimer's are at a higher risk of burning themselves with hot water - either while cooking in the kitchen, washing hands, running a bath and so on. An article from Elder.org advised that caregivers ensure that vibrant colors are used on all taps - red and blue - so that patients are able to determine more easily which tap is which. 

6. Becoming lost
It is common for those with Alzheimer's to become confused about their whereabouts. Consequently, they may attempt to leave home and become lost, putting themselves in danger. That's why it is important for caregivers to ensure that doors remain locked at all times - particularly at nighttime when others are asleep. The Alzheimer's Association suggested putting locks up high on the door, out of reach.

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