Friday, 28 June 2019 13:22

"Danger, in the Kitchen,Will Robinson!"

Remember the old TV show "Lost in Space"? Living with a dementia sufferer kind of feels like that sometimes doesn't it? If you follow my support group blog, I try not to duplicate information. We have talked about (on the support group blog) safety issues, multiple safety issues. However, as my safety and dementia travel led me to the kitchen (the second most dangerous room in the house) there were so many things to cover I didn't think my short support group blog could hold them all!

The kitchen isn't considered a dangerous place for adults, however, the unusual behavior that accompanies dementia makes anticipating sources of trouble in the kitchen a monumental task! Observe your loved one carefully in the kitchen. Nighttime visits to the kitchen can often be a concern, so we want to think about safety and organization. The kitchen is a gathering room, where your family may have often spent much time so we want it to be safe for as long as possible, not off limits to them.

Elderly Woman in Kitchen

 Think about the sink drain, disposal, the trash can (or compactor), electrical appliances and the refrigerator. Keep in mind that if you are in there, your loved one is naturally going to want to be "where the action is", where conversations are happening. To deny that would be cruel. So you might want to safety proof and simplify. You may want to remove some dangerous appliances that are not used daily.

Disconnecting the disposal may be necessary or even removing knobs on the stove or inside the refrigerator. Childproof locks may be necessary on cabinet doors. Often (as with bathroom items) marketing packages use bright colors, fruity fragrances and smiling faces which can give the wrong impression for items that are dangerous or even toxic if swallowed. Even pet food isn't safe. To a confused mind, pet food can look like a snack.

Dementia sufferers can also go through a "hoarding" stage, so be careful of burners on stoves that can be removed and items hidden inside in the space beneath that can burn or melt when the stove is turned on. Also, they may "store" things inside the oven, so be aware and always check it before preheating the oven, you might find a surprise inside!

You also don't want to forget the microwave! Consider unplugging it when you are not there and always checking it to see what you find inside! It can be a good hiding place for things like the tv remote or "explosive" items.

Colored mugs and classes are easier to see and if they have a handle are easier to hold onto. Remove or lock up knives or sharp-edged cooking implements that could be mishandled. For their safety. Disposals being unhooked will eliminate harm, but also save valuable items that may get dropped inside.

Organization is the other consideration in the kitchen. Simplify choices. Remove excess food products, utensils, and appliances. Consider taking a picture of the contents of the cabinets and taping it to the outside of the cabinet or drawer to make it easier for your loved one to find items and prevent the "rummaging" to find things. They may not remember where things are kept like they used to, but with images to remind them, they will still feel productive longer. If not images, then labels to make it easier to find needed items used regularly.

Create a spot for your loved one in your kitchen so they feel welcome and a part of the daily routine if they like. Keep it a welcoming environment for them, but keep it safe from dangers too. If you are unsure, a child lock is your best bet. Find an excuse for why it is there, but keep them safe!

For information on the most dangerous room in the house or other safety issues, see our "Diamonds of Dementia" Facebook Support group page. Like "Lost in Space", we want to be on constant alert to "Dangers! Will Robinson..." ahead, in the kitchen!

 

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