III. Kitchen and food safety tips: Ensuring safety inside the home
Sharing a kitchen with others can be problematic for some people, but sharing it with a loved one with dementia can be even more challenging and unsafe at times.
Security for everyone, including you and your loved one, has to be taken into consideration.
According to Ruth Drew – the Director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimer’s Association – “taking a ‘person-oriented’ approach is the best method of solving the issue of kitchen safety. Your loved one with dementia may actually be more than willing to be part of the action. That means they help you do the dishes, peel carrots, and help mix cookie batter.”
So, how do you take a ‘person-focused’ approach? The answer is simple. You need to ask these questions to get to know your loved one a little bit better (if you don’t already):
What did your loved one with dementia enjoy doing in the past?
What does he or she like to do now?
What is he or she still capable of doing today?
Having answers to these basic questions will help you make decisions about safety, including how your loved one with dementia can act in the kitchen.
“And depending on the level of the activity of your loved one with dementia, you may have to take necessary precautions to make sure everyone in the home is safe,” concludes Drew.
Here’s what Drew proposes you do to keep your kitchen safe for your loved one with dementia:
Keep knives and other sharp tools and utensils in drawers with safety locks.
Prevent burns by keeping the water temperature low, or position the Alzheimer patient far from the hot stove.
Store poisonous chemicals in a drawer with a safety locker.
Is it worth taking all of these extra steps?
Well, you may feel slightly frustrated and embarrassed locking up those sharp knives and other potentially harmful items, but going an extra mile to ensure the safety of your loved one in the kitchen will be worth it.
You see, it’s far simpler to prevent a problem before it occurs. It can be extremely challenging to solve a problem – or even worse, a catastrophe – after it has already taken place.
And, here’s a thing about “food safety.”
It may not bother you seeing your teenage daughter drink milk from the carton, but witnessing the same behavior by your father can be quite embarrassing. Licking strawberry jam off a knife and rehashing the knife in jelly is a big NO.
Your loved one with dementia doesn’t want to taint food on purpose. They do this because they don’t have the judgement or memory to understand it is a socially unacceptable behavior. But this type of behavior may easily drive you “crazy.”
Handling Social Events and Receiving visitors
When visitors come to a house of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be the most exciting time of the day because you have an opportunity to take a break and socialize.
One thing you can do as a caregiver is plan a time for the visit so that your loved one can best receive visitors and guests.
You can share communication tips with visitors and even suggest that they bring memorabilia that your loved one adores, such as their favorite book.
Organizing a family gathering or social event can be pleasurable and exciting, but you need to ensure that your guests are comfortable around your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Make your events and social gatherings enjoyable, light, and fun – something your loved one can handle. Avoid excessive activity that may be overwhelming.