Navigate Up

Women's Center - A-Z Index

#
Y

Print This Page

Dementia - keeping safe in the home

It is important to make sure the home of someone who has dementia is safe for them.

See also:

Safety Tips for the Home

Wandering can be a serious problem in people who have more advanced dementia. These tips may help prevent wandering:

  • Place alarms on all doors and windows that will sound if the doors are opened.
  • Place a "Stop" sign on doors to the outside.
  • Keep car keys out of sight.

To prevent harm when someone with dementia does wander:

  • Have the patient wear an identification bracelet or necklace with their name, address, and phone number.
  • Tell neighbors and others in the area that the person who has dementia may wander. Ask them to call you or to help them get home.
  • Fence and close off any areas that may be dangerous, such as a stairwell or deck, or a hot tub or swimming pool.
  • Consider giving the person a GPS device or a cell phone (which will have a GPS locator embedded in it).

Inspect the person’s house, and remove or reduce hazards for tripping and falling. See also: Preventing falls

Do not leave a person who has advanced dementia alone in the home.

Lower the temperature of the hot water tank. Remove or lock up cleaning products and other items that may be poisonous.

Make sure the kitchen is safe.

  • Remove knobs on the stove when it is not in use.
  • Lock up sharp objects.

Remove, or store in locked areas:

  • All medicines, including the patient’s medicines and any over-the-counter drugs and supplements
  • All alcohol
  • All guns. Separate ammunition from the weapons.

References

Knopman DS. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 409.

Smith DA, Brechtelsbauer DA. Delirium and dementia. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 48.

Moore, HD, Algase DL, Powell-Cope G, Appelgarth S, Beattie ER. A framework for managing wandering and preventing elopement. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2009 Jun-Jul;24(3):208-19.

Dave J, Hecht M. Dementia. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 119.

Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment. N Engl J Med. 2011;364:2227-2234.

Updated: 5/13/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com