Safety for Seniors with Dementia

As people age, many start exhibiting signs of dementia. This could begin as small changes in memory and behaviors, eventually progressing to severe memory loss and the need for assistance in completing most daily tasks. If you or someone you care about is starting to show signs of dementia, a new resource from the University of Colorado’s Department of Emergency Medicine can help you plan and make decisions about safety issues.

Safety in Dementia is a website that can guide you through various safety situations, including firearms and driving. Each section presents questions that help personalize your situation. Based on your answers, you’ll be provided with a series of potential solutions or actions you can take to reduce the risk of harm. The site also includes a “home safety” section with room-by-room guidance and information on fall prevention, locks and alarms, medication safety, and more. Finally, a “resources” section offers a variety of checklists, how-tos, and helpful web links.

aging drivers guideIf you have concerns about aging and driving, whether for yourself or a loved one, the Colorado Department of Transportation also has a handy new resource. Colorado’s Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families is a helpful, user-friendly publication that provides safety tips and information on such topics as

  • licensing and examination requirements for those over 65
  • adaptive devices
  • signs of changes in cognition
  • common driving errors
  • reporting unsafe drivers
  • making a transition plan for “retiring from driving”

The guidebook also discusses how Alzheimer’s and dementia affect driving.

Keeping the home safe is also an important consideration for older adults. The Colorado State University Extension has published a helpful fact sheet on Improving Home Safety for Seniors, which provides general safety information as well as checklists for safety and comfort in every room.