According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 47 million adults living with dementia across the globe. If your parent was recently diagnosed with dementia, you might feel overwhelmed by this devastating disease and not sure where to begin. Whether your parent is moving in with you or they are choosing to stay in their own home, safety must be your biggest concern. From understanding how dementia physically and mentally impacts your parent to making a few small changes around the house, here are some tips to help make your parent both safe and comfortable:
A Dementia Diagnosis and Your Parent's Safety
When you hear the word "dementia" you might think that this very common illness only impacts the patient's memory. However, while memory loss can often be the most devastating symptom, it isn't the only one that can impact your parent on a daily basis – especially in the home.
The way dementia impacts your parent is dependent on several factors – including the stage of their disease. However, in general, these are a few ways your parent's safety around the home can be compromised by their dementia diagnosis:
Dementia can impact your parent's senses – including their ability to distinguish between heat and cold and their depth perception.
A loss of balance and coordination is a common physical symptom associated with several forms of dementia. This can leave your parent vulnerable to accidental slips and falls.
If your parent is becoming forgetful, even in the early stages of the disease, it can impact their safety several ways. For example, your parent might forget they left a boiling pot of water on the stove or they may leave the water running in the bathtub.
If you're concerned about how dementia will impact your parent, don't hesitate to work with their doctor or a home healthcare associate to determine what you can do to ensure their or your home is safe.
Making Your Home Safer
Whether you've decided to move your parent to your home or they are insisting on remaining in their own home, creating a safe environment must be a top priority. In addition to hiring a home healthcare professional to help your parent with their day-to-day needs, there are other changes you can make to every room that will prevent an accidental injury:
Kitchen – Install child safety latches on all the drawers and cabinets. Put away anything that is sharp to prevent your parent from accidentally injuring themselves. As your parent's disease progresses, you may even need to put away any decorative items they could mistake for food, such as a bowl of fake fruit.
Bathroom – Install a taller toilet, which is easier for your parent to access. Place non-slip mats throughout the bathroom, including in the bathtub and the floor in front of the tub. Make sure that all cleaning products and medications are locked away.
Bedroom – Consider purchasing a hospital bed featuring rails, which will help prevent your parent from falling in the night. In addition, make sure your parent can easily get in and out of the bed and that there is a clear path from the bed to the door.
In addition to these steps, make sure that all the rooms and hallways throughout your home are well-lit and free of excess clutter.
If your parent was recently diagnosed with dementia, chances are your biggest concern is their day-to-day safety. These tips can help you make their home a little safer and give you more peace of mind. For more ideas, you may want to work with an experienced at home healthcare provider.