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AARP Expert

Preventing Those with Dementia from Getting Lost Tip #4: Pay attention to Exits and Safety Hazards

You're doing things to prevent your loved ones who are living with dementia from leaving the house but just in case they do leave, it's a good idea to think about what could happen once they are outside. If your loved ones leave the house, there is not only a danger that they could get lost, they could also get hurt. So check out your immediate surroundings and your neighbors' yards and address safety hazards at home. Here are some things to look for:


  • People who have dementia and visual/perceptual impairments may walk into glass doors, so place stickers on them.
  • Install motion-sensor lights and cameras outside - all around the house. The lights coming on could alert you that your loved ones are outside, and you can set up notifications for the video cameras to alert you there is movement outside. The video camera can also help you quickly identify where they are. Bright motion sensor lights may also make them stop and reconsider leaving the safety of the yard. 
  • Fence in and add locked gates to the yard and, separately, the swimming pool.
  • Monitor safety of pathways and steps, including for rain, snow, and ice; ensure adequate lighting.
  • If the grill is a concern, lock the cover and access to gas tanks and all fire starters.
  • Check the garage for safety hazards like gasoline, tools, or ladders, and block access if they pose a danger. 
  • If your loved one can easily access a neighbor’s yard, talk with the neighbor about safety issues.

It's always better to prevent a problem than to deal with one after the fact. I cared for Dad, who had Alzheimer's, for many years, and I always felt more calm knowing I'd taken these steps to ensure he stayed safe. Let us know what safety steps you've taken to prevent your loved one from getting lost and getting hurt in the comments below. 


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving



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