Making Your Home Safe for a Loved One With Dementia: Five Essential Tips on Installing, Removing and Strengthening Locks

When a loved one has dementia, they face a number of physical risks to their safety. If your loved one lives with you or lives at home with a caretaker, there are many steps you can take to help make them safer. In particular, you can add locks to certain places, remove locks from other places and modify the locks in yet other places. Take a look at these tips:

1. Lock potentially dangerous rooms

Your loved one's dementia can cause a level of confusion that makes them unable to make safe choices, especially around knives, ovens, power tools and other potentially dangerous objects. To make your home safer, restrict the person with dementia to certain rooms.

Install locks on interior doors to keep your loved one out of the kitchen, the garage, the home workshop and any other potentially dangerous places.

2. Remove bathroom locks

However, in other cases, you need to remove the locks from certain doors. If your bathroom or your loved one's bedroom has a lock on the door, they could lock themselves in these rooms and get hurt. Prevent that from happening by removing these locks -- in most cases, that is as simple as putting in a new doorknob.

If you don't' change these locks, make sure you keep a small key safely stowed above the door frame outside of these rooms.

3. Lock up medications

As your loved one's dementia advances, it becomes unsafe for them to have unrestricted access to their medication. They may take too many and overdose. For this reason, it should be kept in a locked cabinet or box.

4. Use deadbolts on exterior doors

In addition to making your home safer for your loved one with dementia, you also have to take steps to prevent them from wandering. Unfortunately, people with dementia or other similar issues may open the door, wander off and get lost.

To minimise this risk, you should consider placing deadbolts on exterior doors. If possible, locate them out of the reach of your loved one.

However, if you do this, make sure that your loved one is always supervised. If a fire starts, they need to be able to get out of the house, and they will need help with the deadbolt.

5. Consider alarms

Instead of putting a deadbolt on exterior doors, you can also use a security alarm to ensure your loved one has not wandered off. You don't have to engage the alarm. You simply have to set it to ding every time the door is opened.

If you feel that you're not up to the task of making these modifications, get in touch with a local locksmith. They'll be able to help you with your needs.