Living room safety tips

In the main living areas:

  • Avoid clutter. Recycle newspapers and magazines. Keep areas where people walk free of furniture and cords. Keep plastic bags out of reach. Limit decorative objects. Trim large plants, and remove 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 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.

Laundry room safety tips

In the laundry room:

  • Lock up potentially hazardous products. Install childproof latches on cabinets where you keep detergent and other potentially hazardous supplies.
  • Prevent access to the washer and dryer. Close and latch the doors and lids to the washer and dryer. Consider removing large knobs if your loved one tries to tamper with the machinery.

If the laundry room has a door, consider keeping it locked.

Garage, shed and basement safety tips

In the garage, shed and basement:

  • Lock up potentially dangerous items. Install childproof latches or locks on cabinets where you keep tools, tackle, machines, sporting equipment, paint, fertilizer, gas, cleaning supplies or other toxic materials. Remove all guns or weapons from your home.
  • Lock all vehicles. Consider covering or removing vehicles and bikes that aren't frequently used if your loved one has advanced dementia.

Consider locking the doors to these areas as well.

Outdoor safety tips

To ensure safety outdoors:

  • Check exits. If your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair, make sure he or she will be able to get in and out of your home — when necessary. Consider widening doorways or adding ramps.
  • Keep steps safe. Mark the edges of steps with bright tape. Keep steps sturdy and textured to prevent falls in wet or icy weather.
  • Restrict access to the pool. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, surround it with a fence. Install a gate with a lock. Cover the pool or hot tub when it's not in use.
  • Avoid clutter. Keep hoses, foliage and other debris off the walkways.
  • Safely store fuel sources. Remove fuel sources for your grill or other equipment when not in use.

Other safety precautions

In addition, consider taking these safety precautions throughout your home:

  • Prepare for emergencies. Display emergency numbers and your home address near all telephones.
  • Use night lights. Place night lights in your loved one's bedroom and the bathroom to help prevent your loved one from tripping if he or she gets up at night.
  • Treat slippery or uneven surfaces. Remove throw rugs. Place nonskid strips or wax on hardwood and tile floors.
  • Adjust the home phone and voice mail settings. Lower the ringer volume of your home phone to prevent distraction and confusion. Set the answering machine or voice mail to turn on after the lowest number of rings. A person who has Alzheimer's might be unable to take messages or could become the victim of telephone exploitation.
  • Keep stairs safe. Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs. Make sure stairs have at least one handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps. Cover stairs in carpet or apply nonskid strips. If your loved one has balance problems, install safety gates in front of stairs.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Place them in or near the kitchen and all sleeping areas. Check them regularly to make sure they work. If your loved one has vision or hearing problems, install a smoke alarm with a vibrating pad or flashing light.
  • Check the locks. Make sure there are working locks on all windows and front and back doors. Keep a spare set of house keys outside of the house, in case your loved one locks you out.
  • Address outlets and electrical cords. Place lamps close to electrical outlets. Cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plugs.
  • Keep computer equipment out of the way. If you store valuable documents on your computer, protect the files with passwords and create backup files. Consider monitoring your loved one's computer use.

You can buy many products or gadgets necessary for home safety in hardware, electronics, medical supply and children's stores. If you need help making changes to your home, enlist friends, a home safety professional or a community organization.

Remember, paying attention to home safety can help your loved one maintain his or her independence — and ease the stress of caregiving.

Aug. 15, 2014 See more In-depth