Keeping the House Safe: The Kitchen
When you are caring for an aging loved one with dementia, safety is your number one concern. As difficult as it is to be aware of it all, when you become a family caregiver, you begin realizing every possible thing that could pose a danger to your loved one. You may begin noticing that areas in your house pose safety risks, and then you are likely compelled to address any areas that will cause potential harm. One area to be aware of is the kitchen. In today’s blog, we will go over some tips on how you can keep the kitchen safe in your house so you do not have to worry about your loved one getting hurt.
The kitchen is a dangerous area for several reasons. One reason is that most kitchens have a tile floor and this floor tends to get wet, e.g. after washing dishes or from spills. Other reasons are because the stove becomes extremely hot and there are sharp objects all around. The last thing you want is your loved one to use something in the kitchen and to have an accident. Consider these tips to keep your kitchen a safe environment.
Follow these suggestions:
(1) Remove sharp objects: Sharp objects like knives and scissors have the potential to hurt your loved one if they handle them. The best practice is to keep these items away when your loved one is unsupervised. If at any point, a sharp object in the kitchen has to be used, you should either complete the task for your loved one or make sure they are being extremely careful.
(2) Watch over the control knobs: On a stove and oven, there are control knobs that regulate the amount of heat outputted to the burners and oven. When you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you may have to modify the environment to help accommodate them. For example, you may have to mark the knobs with bright red tape for the “OFF” position. However, if your loved one is in the later stages of dementia and are a greater risk to themselves, you may be better off removing these knobs so there is no potential for them to handle them. You, the family caregiver, have to make this judgment call. Also, if your loved one owns a gas stove, you may consider installing an electric stove to minimize the danger that results from open flames and odorless gas.
(3) Install smoke detectors: This will alert you and the appropriate resources, like the fire department, in case there ever is a fire or a carbon monoxide leak. The importance of this device comes from the fact that it alerts you before any event, like burning food or a leaking gas stove, has become a fatal problem.
(4) Close the kitchen off: If your loved one is in the mid- to late-stages of dementia, it may be best to restrict their use of the kitchen unless they are supervised by their caregiver. This may seem like you are babying your loved one, but the potential risks associated with kitchen environments and the harms that could result far outweigh the social awkwardness restricting their kitchen use may cause. Closing the kitchen off could mean installing small gates to any entrance of the kitchen, which will still allow you to easily communicate with your loved one if necessary.
(5) Remove cleaning supplies: People who have dementia may not be as responsive to labels and may become confused under certain circumstances. To avoid any harm, just store cleaning supplies away from the kitchen in another environment that is easily accessible for caregivers.
(6) Keep floors dry and remove obstacles: Kitchen floors have the potential to get easily wet. If your loved one still accesses the kitchen, make sure you keep the kitchen floor dry and that no obstacles, like dish towels or kitchen supplies, are strewn on the floor. This will ensure that your loved one avoids injury by falling.
For more tips on how to make your kitchen safe, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!