A dementia diagnosis can cause a number of changes, which could impact on someone’s safety. The most obvious – memory loss – can lead to them forgetting how to use certain appliances or forgetting to lock the door. However, dementia can also cause changes to judgement and behaviour, causing suspicions, fear and confusion, and sensory changes in their vision and hearing, which can cause problems with co-ordination and mobility. Being prepared is absolutely essential to keeping that person safe and secure no matter what happens, and there are plenty of products which can help with these issues.

Signage

Your dilemma:
The person you care for struggles to find their way safely around the house, getting confused, frustrated and agitated.
Products to help:
- Signage
Signs are a simple and easy way to help someone orientate themselves around the place that they live so they can stay safe. Whether it’s a sign to show someone the way to the toilet or bathroom, or a label so that they know what kitchen items belong in which cupboard.
These products are good for:
Aiding orientation and boosting independence. They can help prevent those who get lost easily from walking into rooms that they shouldn’t which could pose a safety risk.
Top tip
Colour code your signs depending on which room they are in. So all signs relating to the kitchen should be red, while all signs relating to the bathroom can be blue.

Security

Your dilemma
The person you care for lives alone and needs help, support or reminders about locking the door when in the house, or taking their key and locking up when going out. They also have a carer who needs to get into the house easily each day.
Products to help:
- Locks and lock reminders
If you need to remind the person with dementia to lock the door or take their keys with them each day, a reminder could be useful. These detect motion and then emit a voice reminder to take keys or lock up. If they struggle to turn keys because they don’t have as much strength or flexibility in their hands, then a key turner may be useful, especially if their door key is quite small and fiddly.
- Key safes
A key safe is a small box which fixes to the outside of the house and is opened by inputting a special code. It can be used by family carers, or professional carers to gain access to the property of someone with dementia who might not be able to get up easily to let them in.
These products are good for:
Maintaining security while also allowing for a certain level of independence for someone with dementia.
Good to know:
It is illegal to lock someone with dementia up in their home or their room unless they have been issued with a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard, which can allow for someone to be restrained if they are a danger to themselves or to others and it’s in their best interests. If this is the case, certain legal safeguards need to be upheld.
Top tip
If you’re worried about someone wandering out of the house because the doors are unlocked, you may want to look into whether GPS trackers could help give you peace of mind.

Motion detectors

Your dilemma
The person you care for is prone to wandering and you want to be alerted when this happens so you can ensure they stay safe.
Products to help:
- Border patrol
Entrance monitors can be useful for not only keeping an eye on who is leaving the house, but also whether someone unexpected has come in. They work by sending a pager alert to a carer when the alarm is activated.
- Bed monitoring
Night time wandering can be a real worry for carers and one that can lead to them not being able to sleep well, because they’re worried that the person they care for could wander off in the night. You can monitor if someone gets up from their bed by placing a pressure detector on their mattress underneath the sheet which will let you know if it does not detect any weight on it. You can also place a pressure sensor under a mat in their room, which will sound an alarm if someone steps on it. Another option is to place a motion detector by the door of the bedroom, which gives the person freedom to get up and move around their room if they wish to, but will sound an alarm if they then leave the bedroom.
- Chair monitoring
Chair monitors work in a similar way to bed monitors, in that they will detect when someone is no longer sitting on the chair for a set period of time, and alert a carer.
- Door alarms
As well as maintaining the safety of someone living in a home on their own, you also want to protect them from anyone undesirable who may wish to enter the home. People with dementia may be particularly vulnerable because they could let someone in before realising that they shouldn’t be doing so. A door entry system, particularly when teamed with a digital door viewer can be useful. It lets the person inside talk to and see the person at the door. Also useful for letting in daily carers. A door step wedge alarm can be slid under a door and if the door is opened, it emits a loud alarm to let you know that someone has just tried to open the door.
- Wandering reminder
If the person you’re caring for likes to head out on their own, make sure they’re well prepared by setting up a wandering reminder by the door. These can often be programmed with spoken messages (often from people they know) reminding them to take keys, tell someone where they’re going or to lock the door before they go.
These products are good for:
Providing peace of mind to carers and informing them of the whereabouts of the person with dementia.
Top tip:
A clear day and night clock placed near the person with dementia’s bed can help them orientate themselves if they wake up in the night and start wandering because can’t work out whether it’s 3am or 3pm.

Trackers

Your dilemma:
The person you care for tends to walk off on regular occasions, which at times can put them in danger and jeopardise their safety. You want to be able to know where they are if something like this happens and provide them with the tools or equipment that will help them either find their own way home, or help someone else bring them home.
Products to help:
- Identification
If you’re worried that the person you’re caring for may get confused while out and about and perhaps forget where they live, or who their carer is, then some identification can help. This could be in the form of ID bracelets or special cards, which explain that they have dementia and who to call in an emergency.
- GPS locators
These use global positioning system (GPS) to track where someone is, based on the signal that a specific device gives off. They are used in numerous bits of technology today including mobile phones and car sat nav systems. GPS locators are useful for helping you find someone if they’ve disappeared, as they can be attached to pendants, watches, insoles and belts. They’re also useful for finding specific items if they’re something that gets misplaced regularly, such as glasses or keys.
- Mobile phones
A mobile phone is a useful piece of equipment if someone is heading out and needs to be contacted, but for someone with dementia, they can prove to be complicated or tricky to use or answer, and many people may just leave them turned off rather than use them. A simple mobile phone, which has large, clear buttons, and only a few inputted numbers may be more straightforward for someone with dementia.
- Apps
There is a range of apps that can be used to help you locate someone, some are reliant on the other person having a phone with GPS tracking built into it.
These products are good for:
Ensuring the safety of someone with dementia by helping their carer track and locate them if they go missing.
Good to know:
Half of all people with dementia who are missing for more than 24 hours die or are seriously injured, according to psychiatrist Dr Rupert McShane of Oxford University. It’s thought 40 per cent of dementia patients get lost at some point, while five per cent are repetitive wanderers.

Night time safety

Your dilemma
The person you care for doesn’t sleep solidly through the night and tends to get up and sometimes wander around. You’re worried that they won’t be able to see their way if they need to go to the bathroom, and could be at risk of falls.
Products to help
- Night lights
These can be either plug-in or battery-operated lights, which will either switch on when movement is detected, or stay on permanently, if that’s what you want. They can be useful to light the way to another room such as the bathroom, without the person having to worry about finding a light switch in the dark.
- Window locks
Fitting locks or alarms to the window can be useful if you think the person you’re caring for is going to try and climb out of a window, particularly if it’s on an upper floor and there’s a risk of falling. You can also fix alarms to the window to alert you if they’re opened – both from the outside or the inside.
These products are good for
Helping to prevent falls and provide independence for someone with dementia, and giving peace of mind to carers who are worried about safety.
Top tip
When setting up lighting, including night lights, try to check that the lighting doesn’t throw up any disturbing shadows when it’s on, as this can cause someone with dementia to become fearful.

Kitchen safety

Your dilemma
The person you care for still lives alone, and is reasonably independent in the kitchen, but you’re worried about accidents, including cuts from knives, or leaving the gas or kitchen hob on.
Products to help
- Cut protection
Dementia can lead to a loss in co-ordination – known as apraxia – which can make doing slightly fiddly jobs more difficult. If the prospect of them using things like knives is a worry, there are plenty of special chopping boards, slicers and graters that have been designed so that they’re easier to use, have better grips and less risk of cutting yourself.
- Gas and fire alarms
If the person you care for has a gas-powered cooker (or any gas-powered piece of equipment), it’s vital that you place a carbon monoxide detector and alarm near the item. If it detects gas, it will sound an alarm. Some are hooked into the mains gas source and will actually cut off the supply to reduce the risk while other alarms are hooked into a telecare system that will send a message to a control centre alerting them (and the carer) of what’s going on.
The same goes for fire and smoke alarms. While many smoke alarms simply sound an alarm, this can be confusing and traumatising for someone with dementia, who may even try to remove the alarm or disable it. Alarms that are screwed in or difficult to remove are better, as are those that are linked to a message alarm centre that can alert a carer as to what’s going on.
These products are good for
Keeping someone with dementia safe, so that they can remain in their home and independent, for as long as possible.
Good to know
People with dementia may forget that their kettle is electric, and try to put it onto a hob to heat up. If you’re worried about this, it might be worth switching back to more traditional styles that won’t be at risk of melting if put onto a gas or electric hob, and pose a fire risk.

Car safety

Your dilemma:
The person you care for is still able to drive, and is getting regular reviews to check on their driving ability, but you want to ensure that they’re as safe as possible when out and about.
Products to help:
- Highway code manual book
It may have been a while since the person you care for took their driving test, so if you’re worried that they might not be quite up to speed with the latest rules of the road, taking a look at an up-to-date copy of the Highway code manual may help.
- Elderly driver signs
If they tend to drive a little more slowly or cautiously, it’s possible to buy special signs which can be hung up in the back window of the car alerting other people to the fact that they’re an elderly driver and may need to be more patient.
- Suitable cars
A low-slung, flashy sports car may be the fantasy car for many, but in reality, a vehicle that is easy to get into, has high supportive seats, large mirrors and big windows to see out of is much more practical.
These products are good for
Maintaining independence after a dementia diagnosis by helping someone to continue driving until they’re unable to.
Good to know
You MUST alert the DVLA of a dementia diagnosis. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your license, but it will mean that you have to have regular checks to ensure you can still drive safely.

Home safety

Your dilemma:
You’re worried about leaving the person you care for on their own, either when you need to pop out, or because they live on their own. Fears include having a fall and not being able to get up, letting strangers into the property, and gas, fire and electrical risks.
Products to help:
- Activity monitoring
Keep track of whether someone is getting up and out of their bed or chair, or moving around the house through the use of pressure and movement sensors. Sensors will enable you to know, for example, if someone hasn’t got out of bed for a while, or if they’ve got out of bed but haven’t returned. The sensors can be hooked up to telecare systems, which can also let you know if there has been no movement in the flat or house for a certain amount of time, which could suggest an accident or fall.
- CCTV and video entry systems
If you’re worried about he person you’re caring opening the door to strangers and potentially letting them in, you may want to consider decoy CCTV cameras to put off callers who may not have the best intentions. You could also install a video entry system, which allows you to see who is at the door before you let them in.
- Lockable cupboards
These are useful for storing dangerous substances such as cleaning products out of the way in case the person you’re caring for doesn’t understand how to use them. Some harsh bleaches or oven cleaners can be very dangerous. If they still want products to clean with, leave out a gentler spray and some cloth so they can still wipe down surfaces and provide them with useful and purposeful jobs.
- Electrical items
Look into products that can switch off automatically or be put on a timer so that they turn off after a certain amount of time. These can be a good idea for kettles, cookers and other electrical items such as heaters.
- Gas
Gas cookers can be fitted with an isolation valve so that they can’t be turned on and left on because they’ve been forgotten about. You can also be asked to be put on a priority service register so that an expert can come out and safety check gas (and also electrical items) on a regular basis.
- Fire
Poor mobility, poor sense of smell and a reduced tolerance of smoke and burns contribute to problems around fire for older people and those with dementia. You should encourage the person you care for to take care with smoking material if they’re a smoker, as a forgotten cigarette can be extremely dangerous. Electric blankets should be checked regularly and the smoke alarm should be mains operated or have a long-life battery.
These products are good for
Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the person you’re caring for.
Top tip
If the person you’re caring for wants to dry clothes, make sure that they have a suitable clothes horse, otherwise they may be tempted to hang damp clothing over fireguards or heaters, which could pose a fire risk.

Falls

Your dilemma:
The person you care for has become increasingly frail, and has already, or may possibly in the future, have a fall. You’re worried that if this happens, you won’t be there to help or won’t know that there’s a problem.
Products to help:
- Fall prevention
Falls can be a common problem in people with dementia because they have impaired visuo-spatial abilities – that is, they find it difficult to see items and where they are in relation to other objects. Helping to prevent a fall by providing the right equipment can be key for helping someone stay in their own home for longer. This could involve canes, walkers or rails to help them pull themselves up into a standing position. They may also feel safer knowing there are ramps and anti-slip mats so there’s less of a risk of tripping. A bath or shower chair will provide support for someone while they wash in case they’re unable to stand for long periods of time, and so help to reduce the risk of falls.
- Fall alarms
If someone you care for does have a fall, it’s important that there are ways for you to know about it. Motion detectors can be placed on most walls and they’ll detect whether there has been any movement in the room. They can be set to sound an alarm if there is movement (for example during the night) and also to sound if there has been no movement for a set amount of time, which could suggest that someone has taken a fall. Another option is a pendant alarm. These are electrical tags worn around the neck or on the wrist, which have a button you can press if you’re in trouble. They can be very useful, but are of course reliant on the person with dementia being conscious in order to press it. If they have fallen and become unconscious, then a movement detector might be a good back-up option.
These products are good for:
Ensuring that someone with dementia who is at risk of falling has the equipment needed to help reduce this risk, and to sound the alarm if they do fall. This will provide peace of mind for carers and family if the person with dementia is living at home alone and has become frail.
Good to know
A third of people over 65 living in the UK will experience a fall. This not only causes considerable emotional distress and physical harm, but also costs an already over-stretched health system over £1 billion each year. Strength and balance training (sometimes known as SBT) can be very useful for helping to reduce the risk of falls. Click here for tips on how to do this.

Carer safety

Your dilemma
It’s not just the person you’re caring for that needs to stay safe. You’re also worried about your own health and safety, from finding the time to eat a healthy diet, to protecting your back when you’re moving someone around the house, you need all the advice and information you can get.
Products to help
- Nutrition
Make sure you eat a healthy and varied diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, fish and poultry, wholemeal carbohydrates, dairy, nuts and seeds. And while they may seem like an easy snack to reach for when you’ve been on your feet all day, try to avoid too much fast food such as sweets, crisps, cake and chocolate. If you’re worried that you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients, a supplement may help, but it should not be taken alongside a healthy diet, rather than instead of it.
Remember to also make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids. You may find that just as you’re about to sit down for a glass of water or much-needed cup of tea, another drama ensues with the person you care for. However, it’s vital that you stay hydrated as it’s linked to energy and the body’s ability to function properly.
- Back protection
Lifting and moving someone who has mobility problems can be very difficult, particularly if you’re not as strong as you used to be or have your own strength or mobility problems to contend with. Using special slings, hoists, frames and walkers can help to protect your back from any unnecessary strain. It’s also worth talking to an occupational therapist for tips on moving someone safely without damaging your back.
- Education – books, DVDs
There is a whole range of information available to help those who care for someone with dementia. Take a look at our books and DVDs for more advice and support.
These products are good for
Helping to keep you healthy, well and happy.
Top tip
Take at least 20 minutes every day to spend time doing something for you. It may end up being right at the end of the day, or while the person you care for is taking a nap, but making time for yourself is really important when you’re a carer for your own physical and mental wellbeing.