Dementia home safety is on my mind this month – particularly potential fire hazards.
My suggestions this month are to substitute candles with flameless candles and to remove candles and lighters either from the house or away from your loved one with dementia.
As long as I can remember there were always candles in the house. On special occasions, such as holiday dinners and for parties, Mom would light those candles.
After Dad passed away and Mom’s dementia started getting more noticeable, she would occasionally put a candle on the kitchen table while we ate dinner.
One time I noticed that there was a candle burning in the candle holder by the sofa which was Mom’s “spot.” That’s where one could usually find her in the house.
I got to thinking that with Mom’s failing memory, having lit candles around was not a good idea. The chance of her walking away from a lit candle and leaving it burning was very high.
Luckily, about that time, I started to see flameless candles in the stores. In my opinion, flameless candles rank right up at the top, along with Post-It notes, on my list of the best inventions.
I gradually started changing the votive candles in the house over to flameless ones. We found flameless pillar candles to replace the ones she liked. The others I put away in a place where she wouldn’t find them.
My suggestion for you is to remove all candles from your house – or at least the rooms where your loved one lives – and substitute them with flameless ones.
funny side notes
I have 3 funny stories about the flameless candles.
I wish I had thought to take a picture of this one at the time but you’ll just have to visualize this in your mind. One of the flameless candles had a dark spot on the tip of it. I wondered what was wrong with it. Upon closer examination, I realized that it looked like it had been lit! I’m pretty sure that Mom tried to light the candle with a match. Good thing it didn’t melt! Apparently, I didn’t get all the matches put away out of sight!
I came downstairs one morning and went to make coffee. As I moved over to add water I noticed a candle in a holder in the sink! I didn’t put it there. Since it was just Mom and me in the house, it must have been Mom. What do you suppose was going through Mom’s mind when she put the flameless candle in the sink? I really think that was Mom’s way of being safe.
The picture on the right is my third story. I opened the cupboard one time and saw the candle on the shelf. Surprise! Again, what do you suppose was the reasoning for Mom putting the candle on the shelf? It’s tall and round – shaped like a can. Sure, cans go on the shelf.
I would say that these are good examples of a person with mild cognitive impairment having impaired reasoning. You really don’t know what will turn up in strange places!
I bet that some of you readers have found things in interesting places in your house!
Matches and Lighters
Both my mom and dad were long time smokers until they both started having health problems. The two of them quit cold turkey! I have to give them a lot of credit for being able to do that.
Thank goodness Mom was not smoking at the time of her memory loss. Although, she did remark a few times that she would have loved a cigarette!
I say thank goodness because to me, lit matches and lighters, even cigarettes, are just another hazard to watch out for when it comes to people with dementia. Most likely, a forgotten lit cigarette would just burn itself out. But, what if it rolled off the ashtray onto something flammable? Or, if a person forgot what was in their hand and just put it down?
It’s the “what if….” situations that scared me. Those were enough for me to make some dementia home safety changes around the house.
dementia proof your home
So, matches, lighters, cigarettes, and ashtrays should be removed from the vicinity of your loved one with dementia. You might need to check around their living quarters for a hidden “stash” because there’s no telling what they do!
other dementia home safety suggestions
You know those multi-purpose candle lighters that make lighting things easier? Remove those away from your loved one with dementia or secure them somewhere where they cannot get access to them.
Make sure you have installed smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide alarms while you’re at it) in all sleeping areas and near the kitchen. To help you remember to keep those batteries fresh, set yourself a phone calendar reminder to change batteries when you change clocks in the spring and fall.
Childproof your unused electrical outlets.
Remove flammable liquids from the kitchen.
Remove portable space heaters.
To sum it up, the name of the game here is to keep your loved one with dementia, yourself, and any other family members living with you safe. Removing flammable items and reducing the risk of potential hazards is one way to do so.