Maintaining a safe, dementia-friendly environment
The home is an important place for everyone. For the person with dementia, a familiar environment can help her connect with the past and maintain a sense of who she is. However, some practical changes may need to be made to keep the home "dementia-friendly."
When modifying your home environment, keep it familiar, striking a balance between safety and independence. Too many restrictions can make it difficult for her to take part in daily activities, and can seriously affect her self-esteem.
Keep in mind some of the changes that occur with dementia: decreased balance and reaction time; visual-perceptual problems; physical limitations that make it more difficult to walk; memory; judgment; and insight. Also keep in mind that you are more likely to be tired, and feel under pressure, making it more difficult for you to anticipate risk and prevent accidents.
Adapt the task to the person's current abilities. For example, a person who enjoyed wood-working may no longer be able to use power tools but may still be able to nail, sand and paint in the workroom. Be aware of changes as they happen and re-evaluate the need to make further changes to adapt to his abilities.
Some areas of a home may have more risks than others. Pay extra attention in the garage, work room, basement and outdoor areas.
Take a few minutes to complete the following checklist on home safety. Keep in mind that, as the disease progresses, you may need to update your responses.