3 Easy Tips for a Dementia-Safe Kitchen
It can be troubling when an elderly family member or friend begins to be affected by dementia. While more structured care might be necessary eventually, and this of course varies from case to case, the affected person can still be able to maintain a level of independence. However, it might be that they require some assistance in order to safely maintain this independence. The kitchen has the potential to be a dangerous place for someone with dementia, and this is due to the fact that electrical items in the kitchen don't safely mix with lapses in memory. There are a few things you can do to help in ensuring that your family member or friend's kitchen remains usable, and yet also safe.
1. The Oven
The oven is perhaps the most important item in the kitchen that needs to be addressed. The danger is that it will be turned on and then simply forgot about. A simple oven timer can overcome this, but only when it's manually activated. An electrician with experience in oven repair can ensure that such a measure is in place each time the oven is switched on. They can install a shutoff control to an existing oven, wherein the oven can only be turned on for a certain period of time before it automatically turns itself off. This will not be any hindrance to the normal operation of the oven, but if the fact that the oven is left on is overlooked, the appliance will safely turn itself off and cool down after a preset amount of time.
2. Small Appliances
Any smaller appliances should be replaced by counterparts that also have an automatic shutoff function. This is a common feature with many smaller appliances, so it might already be the case. It's a matter of checking and purchasing new items as needed. Appliances such as the kettle, coffee machine, and anything that will generate heat should have the capacity to turn themselves off once they have reached the desired temperature. Again, this overcomes the possibility of the appliance being turned on and then forgotten about.
Some aspects of dementia can make a person more susceptible to falling down. In order to minimise this risk, the kitchen needs to be extremely well-lit. While this will not automatically overcome any dementia-related falls, it can perhaps minimise the risk by making slipping hazards common in the kitchen (such as spilled liquids) immediately evident. Consider installing additional lighting in the kitchen, upgrading the wattage of existing lighting, or even installing motion activated lighting, timed to come on at night.
Though they're relatively small changes, these modifications to a kitchen can make a huge amount of difference to someone affected by dementia.