Safety considerations in persons with Dementia

driving hazard dementia

As dementia progresses, some challenging issues often arise that impact on their safety. These symptoms arise as a result of the process of dementia affecting not just a person’s memory, but also more complex tasks such as planning and navigating. These are just some examples of potentially risky situations that may arise:

Driving

Driving is a complex task; and for some patients with Dementia, it may no longer be safe for them to drive. In addition to just difficulties with navigation, driving also requires other functions such as judgement, good visual acuity (sharpness of vision) and motor coordination – all of which may be affected in some individuals with dementia.

If it compromises either the patient’s or the public’s safety, he should be advised to stop driving. Your doctor might send you for further assessment to determine if you it is still safe for to drive.

Fire Safety

While it is good that many elderly with Dementia are still maintaining some level of independence by preparing simple meals for themselves, it is a common occurrence that they would forget to switch the stove off. This presents a risk of a fire, for example during a boilover. As such, family members are advised to be around to monitor the situation when they use the stove, or to consider using an electric stove instead to help mitigate the risk a little.

Wandering

As dementia progresses, some elderly are unable to recognize the way home. As such, they might wander off to other places. While some eventually find their way home with help, some get lost for days. While they are out wandering, there are other risks such as falls and being exploited financially or in other aspects. Also, their safety awareness is much reduced, as such, crossing the roads might pose as a very dangerous activity for them too.

We highly recommend that caregivers apply to Alzheimer’s Disease Association for a safe return card with a memo from your doctor. Alternatively, make a copy of the elderly’s identification documents so that he or she carries it with him/her at all times.