Home can be a scary place for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's. The possibility of wandering into unsafe areas or disappearing outside the home is a constant worry for loved ones. The environment is so important to a person with dementia. They are much more sensitive to their environment and need a quiet orderly living space. It is critical to address factors such as noise, color and lighting as well as these other safety precautions:
- Lighting-People with dementia are very susceptable to glare and to sudden changes in light levels. There is a tendency to hallucinate or to see things that aren't really there. Make sure that rooms are evenly lit and that your loved one is not going from an overly lit room to a dark one. The best lighting is glare-free. If there is a lot of glare on a table or on a surface it can distort visual perception. Avoid bare bulbs and make sure all lamps have shades. Installing automatic lighting can also be very helpful.
- Disguise Doors-Disguising a door can prevent wandering into a dangerous place. Hang a curtain or turn the door into a mural. Studies have shown that a large red stop signd sends an understandable message to even those with severe memory loss. Install multiple locks on a door each at varying heights out of direct sight and supplement with an alarm.
- Install Flood Alarms-Flood Alarms are inexpensive insurance in any room where a water leak or overflow might be possible. You should also consider installing faucets with anti-scald devices.
- Handrails-People with dementia have mobility issues. Handrails can increase their ability to function. Grab bars are also helpful so that an individual can get on and off the toilet safely.
- Color Contrast-Since depth perception is a serious problem for people with dementia, climbing the stairs can be a big issue. Use 2 inch color tape or paint stripes going up and down the stairs. Make sure that the color is brighter than the surrounding color.
- "Baby Proof", Latches, Gates, Motion Dectector's & Alarms-Install latches higher or lower than eye level. Use gates to deny access to unsafe areas. Use motion sensor devices that sound an alarm or turn on a light to alert you to someone wandering to an area that may not be safe.
- Clear Clutter-A lot of people with dementia start to develop a shuffling walk as the disease progresses. Persons with dementia may not pick up their feet and also have visual depth perception issues. Remove area rugs and door sills. Make the home easy to navigate through. Avoid the urge to rearrange the furniture, keeping things in the same place is an important strategy.