Home safety tips: Preparing for Alzheimer's caregiving

Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's can be rewarding — and stressful. Follow these home safety tips to help keep your loved one out of harm's way. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Home safety is important for everyone — but it carries added significance for caregivers. This is especially true if you're caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease in your home. A throw rug or a stray toy on the steps could easily put your loved one at risk of a fall or injury. To prevent stressful and dangerous situations, consider these home safety tips for caregivers.

Evaluating home safety

Start by thinking about your loved one's behavior, abilities and health. Can your loved one safely walk up and down stairs? Does he or she tend to wander or get up at night? Has he or she fallen before? Then check each room for potential hazards and make a note of any changes you'd like to make. Keep in mind that changing the environment will likely be more effective than trying to change your loved one's behavior.

Kitchen safety tips

In the kitchen:

  • Lock up breakable or potentially dangerous supplies. Install childproof latches on cabinets and drawers to limit access to items such as cleaning products, alcohol, matches, knives and scissors.
  • Prevent access to potentially dangerous appliances. Install safety knobs on the stove to prevent your loved one from turning the stove on or off. Disconnect the garbage disposal.
  • Remove artificial fruits or vegetables or food-shaped magnets. These objects might appear to be edible.

Bedroom safety tips

In the bedroom:

  • Install a monitoring device. A baby monitor will help you hear if your loved one falls or needs help. This might be particularly helpful if your loved one has advanced dementia.
  • Take caution when using heating devices. Don't use portable space heaters in your loved one's bedroom. If your loved one uses an electric blanket or heating pad, keep the controls out of his or her reach.

If your loved one tends to get up at night to drink, eat or use the bathroom, try to meet these needs before he or she goes to bed.

Living room safety tips

In the main living areas:

  • Avoid clutter. Recycle newspapers and magazines. Keep areas where people walk free of furniture. Keep plastic bags out of reach. Limit knickknacks and other decorative objects. Trim large plants, and remove any plants that might be toxic if eaten.
  • Mark glass doors, windows and furniture. Place a decal on glass at your loved one's eye level, if possible, to help him or her see glass panes.
  • Take caution when using fireplaces. Don't leave your loved one alone with an open fire in the fireplace.
Jun. 23, 2011 See more In-depth