Kitchen Safety and Alzheimer’s Disease

Kitchen Safety for Alzheimer’s Patients
The kitchen is the heart of most families’ homes. Now that you have a family member with dementia, you want to keep the kitchen as safe as it can be.

Kitchen countertops and cabinets are filled with dangerous items – poisonous cleaning products, sharp knives and scissors, and heavy pots and pans. You will need to secure the area by removing or locking up these items.

As you install locks on your cabinets, you may want to do some research and find the best sort of lock. Locks made for childproofing are not recommended. Realize that as an adult, your loved one is much stronger than a child, and even with dementia still will probably be able to figure out the latch. An alternative option includes an invisible cabinet lock that opens using a magnetic key. This keeps the doors locked without making it obvious to your loved one that they are being locked out of a cupboard in their own home.

Refrigerator Safety

As your loved one’s condition worsens, it may become necessary to lock the refrigerator. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s disease will place non-food items in the refrigerator, such as a purse or keys. Your loved one may take items out of the refrigerator and accidentally leave them on the counter to spoil. They could also try to eat uncooked meat or other foods that can be harmful. If you are unable to deter your loved one from opening the refrigerator, you can install a refrigerator lock. Again, you’ll need one for adults, not for a child. It will need to be heavy-duty to withstand an adult’s strength.

Oven And Stove Safety

The oven and stove can pose the greatest threat to your loved one with dementia, as well as the rest of your family. Leaving stovetop burners on can lead to severe burns, fires, and smoke inhalation. There are easy fixes to help you and your loved ones stay safe. Remove all the knobs on the stovetop and place them in a drawer, or use safety knob covers.

If your home has an electric oven or stove, a helpful product is the “Automatic Stove/Oven Control.” This device allows you to set your stove/oven to only be used during certain times of the day and to turn off when no one is in the kitchen. It has a countertop motion detector to monitor when people are in the kitchen. The safety device will turn the oven/stove off after a set amount of time, such as 5, 10, or 15 minutes. This will happen after the room is detected to be empty. If you are the one cooking and it is safe to leave the kitchen unattended, you can push an “override” button. This will allow the oven/stove to remain on beyond the set automatic shut-off time.

Realize that your loved one’s condition may cause them to forget how to use an appliance. This can cause your loved one frustration and present hazardous situations. Small appliances can cause hazards when used improperly. Unplug the toaster, coffee maker, and toaster oven when not in use. Or better still, remove them from the kitchen countertop. Consider disconnecting the garbage disposal or disguising the disposal’s switch.

As your family member’s disease progresses, you’ll need to reassess the safety needs.

This article is courtesy of Active Daily Living.