5 Often-Overlooked Dangers in the Homes of People With Alzheimer's

Managing safety for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia can be daunting, because needs are constantly changing. The person may seem fine one minute but do something unexpected or out of character the next.

Here are five dangers that often catch families off guard:

1. Excessive clutter. It's a tripping hazard, as neurological changes cause your loved one to shuffle his or her feet when walking.

2. Old or extra medications. Don't store any family member's leftover drugs, vitamins (especially iron pills), aspirin, or other medications -- prescription or over-the-counter -- where they're accessible.

3. Electric blankets and heating pads. These can cause burns as the person's sensitivity to temperature declines. Don't use.

4. Garbage disposal. Your loved one may drop important things down it or place his or her own hands there. Better to disconnect and toss waste in the trash.

5. Doorknob covers. They're useful to deter a wanderer but a danger if your loved one needs to escape a fire or exit quickly in another emergency, so only use them when a caregiver is present.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

over 1 year, said...

So true. Can speak for the validity of the concerns listed, especially excessive clutter, medications, vitamins and ... garbage disposal. You don't know what's dangerous, what they will do, until you know (IE: they do it one day). It's great having this site to share info and resources!

over 4 years, said...

I could never convince my husband to get rid of the 3 guns we had. One was loaded. Told my son about it and he asked my husband if his grandson could have the guns. My husband obliged immediately. What a relief. Very necessary step.

over 6 years, said...

Suggestions to help with my father.

almost 7 years, said...

The excessive clutter, I have lots of that so will work on that part also the old medicine.

almost 7 years, said...

Hi Anonymous, Thank you very much for your question. If you'd like, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( http://www.caring.com/ask ). I hope that helps, good luck and take care -- Emily | Community Manager

almost 7 years, said...

Husband with early onset mild mid-stage dementia probably won't be hunting any longer, and is in denial, so how do we convince to get rid of guns?

almost 7 years, said...

We are not there, yet, but I'll keep these suggestions in mind. My husband's eyesight is getting worse and I try to keep the areas where he walks free of clutter -- except his cats!