Home Safety Tips

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2019

As Alzheimer’s progresses, it may be harder to safely do things around the house. People with Alzheimer’s may forget how to do things safely, what number to call in the event of an emergency, or how to use appliances in a safe manner. While these are all concerning, many people with Alzheimer’s can stay in their homes as long as safety precautions are taken and measures are in place for their well-being. When possible, a person with Alzheimer’s should talk with family members honestly about what their current abilities are and what they have trouble doing, so others can help make the house as safe as possible. Safety measures will need to be periodically reassessed as Alzheimer’s disease progresses to make sure that living independently is still safe and possible.

How Alzheimer’s affects safety

As the disease progresses, a person might find themselves becoming more easily confused, getting lost in their neighborhood, being more fearful, or forgetting how to use appliances.1 As brain cells and neural pathways are destroyed, these things may become more pronounced. A person might start having trouble with balance, have vision or hearing impairments, not be able to accurately gauge temperature, or have impaired depth perception.1 All of these can lead to household accidents or create a less-than-ideal safety situation.

General safety tips

There are some general safety measures that can be implemented throughout the house. These can include:2

  • Keep emergency numbers and home address next to every phone in the house and put a sticker on the back of cell phones with the information
  • Make sure there are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors near the kitchen and bedrooms and that they are working properly
  • Install secure locks on outside doors and windows, and consider getting an alarm that beeps when a door or window is opened
  • Utilize GPS devices
  • Provide a few trusted individuals with house keys, in case the person forgets where they placed them or becomes locked out of the house
  • Cover open electrical outlets with childproof covers
  • Make sure stairways and steps have adequate lighting and install handrails if necessary, or even grip tape on the surface of the steps; use a stair gate if necessary
  • Place red tape around heating vents and radiators to remind the person not to touch them or stand on them
  • Dispose of alcohol; alcohol consumption can increase confusion
  • Minimize clutter
  • Remove throw rugs
  • Place textured strips or nonskid wax on hardwood floors to reduce slip and fall risk
  • Ensure ample or adequate lighting outside and inside

Safety considerations by room

Different rooms of the house can mean different safety considerations, and it can be good to take things room by room to evaluate what needs to be done. It’s easy to overlook a safety hazard if one thinks in general terms.

In the kitchen:2

  • Lock away all breakable or dangerous items like knives, scissors, sharp instruments or poisonous cleaning products
  • Think about entrusting medications to a responsible caregiver to administer, and having medications locked away to ensure they’re taken properly
  • Install safety knobs and automatic shut-off system for the oven
  • Keep a nightlight in the kitchen
  • Remove artificial food that might be used for decoration, to avoid confusion
  • Get rid of flammable liquids
  • Consider removing the garbage disposal to avoid any possible accidents

In the bedroom:2

  • Install a nightlight
  • Remove portable space heaters and use caution with electric blankets
  • Consider using a monitor so a caregiver can hear if the person needs assistance
  • Use transfer or mobility aids if necessary

In the bathroom:2

  • Remove the lock to avoid getting locked in
  • Put nonskid strips or decals in the shower/bath, as well as a grab bar
  • Install grab bar or handrails near the toilet, or use a raised toilet seat
  • Consider using a shower stool or hand-held shower head to make it easier to clean oneself
  • Set the water heater at 120 degrees F to avoid water that is too hot
  • Use a nightlight
  • If using an electric razor for the face, move it outside of the bathroom to avoid possible contact with water

For the living room:2

  • Get rid of electrical cords to avoid tripping, or tape them along the perimeter
  • If there are glass doors, place decals at eye level; if there is furniture with glass panels, do the same
  • Close up the fireplace
  • As the Alzheimer’s progresses, perhaps keep the remote controls for the TV where a caregiver can help the person use them

Things for caregivers to consider

There are some things a caregiver might want to consider when taking safety precautions for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. If there is alcohol still in the house, dispose of it. The person might not realize what it is, drink too much, or become sick. If the person smokes, removing ashtrays, matches or lighters, and the cigarettes reduces fire hazards and without the reminder, they may forget all about it.2 Place prescription and non-prescription medication in a safe place; locked, if necessary, for supervised administration to the person.

While it is possible for a person with Alzheimer’s to live independently in the early stages, and possible to live in your house as the disease progresses, an individual will have to take precautions, along with family or caregivers, to maintain safety and well-being. Talk over any wishes with family and caregivers, and work together to help the person maintain as much independence as they’d like.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.