Safety Issues in Dementia Care

Discuss and share how to Identify and manage the many safety issues related to care of people with dementia.

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An important consideration in safety with patients with dementia is the physical home environment in which the patient lives. Marquardt, et al (2011) studied home modifications that caregivers for dementia patients implemented in their homes to provide a safe environment. Most of the modifications focused on preventing falls in and around the home. The areas identified in this study included:

 When considering safety measures in those with dementia one has to consider the impact this person’s safety has on the person themselves and those caring for them.  The article cited below acknowledges the specific struggles of restlessness, orientation to time and space, and the gradual loss of autonomy for these patients and how these struggles impact the caregiver.

What are your thoughts on the positive effectiveness of merry walkers with dementia residents?

A safety topic very relevant to the care of dementia patients in the community is that of missing incidents. These can pose a significant safety risk to our patients, and have the potential to result in grave consequences (Rowe, Greenbaum, & D'Aoust, 2012). Appropriate education to caregivers can help to reduce the risk of a missing incident occurring, in addition to aiding the caregiver in eliciting appropriate resources to resolve a missing incident as quickly as possible.

I have recently been appointed to a National Advisory Group on development of a Uniform Curriculum on Alzheimer's Disease.

Part of the work involves reviewing an existing set of materials developed by a group in Minnesota called "Act on Alzheimer's"

Note that all of the materials can be used by anyone for free - -you just can't sell them!

Please consider reviewing some of these materials, and giving me your feedback on how you might use them in your own work.

What other content would you like to see developed?

Personal Alarms...the new physical restraint! I work in a 12-bed special care dementia community at a CCRC. About six months ago, we began to notice an increase in agitation, administration of antipsychotics, antianxiety meds, and negative behaviors in our dementia residents. So we began the process of eliminating personal alarms to see what effect it had on our residents. We started with the 5 residents that had the personal alarms and if they had not had a fall in the last sixty days, we removed the alarms. That brought us down to two residents with remaining alarms.

The link below offers safety tips for several settings:

Safety at Home

Risk of Getting Lost

Driving Safety Assessment

Safety While Traveling

Disaster Preparation


Staying Safe



Note: this resource was provided by the Alzheimer's Association.

Steps to take for a person with dementia

Safety is important for everyone, but the need for a comprehensive safety plan is particularly important for a person with Alzheimer’s as the disease progresses.

Alzheimer’s disease causes a number of changes in the brain and body that may affect safety. Depending on the stage of the disease, these can include:

En route to finding a video that would showcase, in a realistic manner, the challenges of advanced dementia, I came across this very compelling video and story.