Home Safety Issues Part II: Dementia & Fire Safety
House fires and burns are real dangers for older adults. The three big causes of house fires and burns are cooking, space heaters, and cigarettes. Always be sure there are working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby that has been inspected in the last 12 months.
Many people with dementia want to live at home for as long as they can. Being able to cook is important for independence, but it has to be balanced with safety. As the dementia worsens, a person's abilities change. Therefore, it's important to check the person's abilities often to make sure they are still able to cook safely. This skill check is important to do whether the person with dementia is living alone, or with others.
Why Most People with Dementia Should Not Cook Alone
Small changes in the kitchen can help people living with dementia to continue to cook, and lower the risk of fires.
Tips for Safe Cooking
People living with dementia should never use a space heater alone. Space heaters start half of all home fires in the winter months. Many models don't have the safety features. They may not automatically turn off when tipped over or when they get too hot. Also check to make sure the heater is not damaged. For example, don't use it if the cord is worn or frayed.
Tips for Safe Use of Space Heaters
People with dementia should not smoke cigarettes when they are alone. The symptoms of dementia, such as forgetfulness and poor judgment, make smoking very risky.
Tips For Smoking Safety
Written by: Mindy J. Fain, MD, University of Arizona Center on Aging
Alzheimer's disease and Related Dementia ~ Care Partner Information
Edited by an interprofessional team from the University of Arizona Center on Aging, Alzheimer's Association - Desert Southwest Chapter and Community Caregivers
This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB4HP19047, Arizona Geriatric Education Center. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.