Kitchen Safety for Someone With Alzheimer's
The kitchen is filled with potential trouble spots for Alzheimer's or dementia patients. A person who is used to cooking may want to continue to do so but forget to turn off the flame when the food is done, may make the flame too high, or may not position pots safely on the stove top. At first, simply keeping close watch may be enough to reduce these risks. In time, as the disease progresses, it may be necessary to remove the knobs from the stove or to cover them so the person in your care will not notice them.
The microwave can be a mixed blessing. While it heats food quickly, the food can become too hot and the person with Alzheimer's Disease may use the wrong type of container and cause a fire. It may best be left unplugged with the plug out of sight.
People with Alzheimer's sometimes put items in the refrigerator that do not belong there, such as a purse. They may also not be able to tell the difference between fresh food and rotten food or even food that needs to be cooked before it is eaten, such as raw hamburger. It may seem extreme to lock the refrigerator, but it might become necessary.
Kitchen Safety Tips for Alzheimer's Patients
The following suggestions will make your kitchen a safer place for the person in your care:
- Remove spices or medicines from the counter tops and keep cleaning supplies in a locked place.
- Remove scissors and knives from counter tops and drawers. A person with AD may hurt himself or others with these dangerous items.
- Remove all items that cause confusion.
- Disguise the garbage disposal switches.
- Put all the garbage out of sight.
- Put labels on the cabinets.
- Install a shut-off valve (for a gas stove) or a circuit breaker for an electric stove so you can disable it when you leave the kitchen.
- Remove burner knobs and tape the stems or install knob covers.
- Use a lock-out switch on the electric range so it can't be turned on except by you.
- Use an aluminum cover over the top of the stove, or use burner covers.
- Replace the pilot on a gas stove with an electric starter.
- Lock the oven door.
- Use safety latches on doors and cabinets.
- Install gates, door, or dutch doors so the kitchen can be closed off but you can still see and be seen.
- Install an automatic turn-off on the faucet.
- Install a governor on the hot water faucet (or turn down the valve under the sink) to control the amount of water that can be used.
- For a faucet spout that swings outside the sink itself, install a brace that keeps water in the sink at all times.
- Hide or get rid of dangerous small appliances.
- Turn off appliances by unplugging them, turning off circuit breakers, or removing fuses. • Install smoke detectors (but not near the stove).
- Use an electric teakettle that has an automatic shutoff.
- Use a single-lever faucet that can balance water temperature.
- Provide an area away from the knife drawer and the stove where the person in your care can help prepare food.
- Ask the gas company to modify your stove to provide a gas odor that is strong enough to alert you if the pilot light goes out.
- Provide a step stool, never a chair, to reach high shelves.