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Home Modification and Home Safety:
FIXING TOILET TO CONTROL FLUSHING
This can enable a caregiver to determine if a person with dementia has been using the toilet regularly. Directions on how to disable the lever:
Most toilets have an external lever that is pressed to open the flow valve which allows the water in the tank to flow quickly into the toilet. Tripping the external lever raises an internal lever, attached by a simple chain to a rubber valve that acts as a seal to the water reservoir. The chain is usually attached to the internal lever by a hook that fits through a small hole at the farthest end of the lever. When the internal lever rises, it releases the rubber seal and the toilet flushes. To disable, simply open the top of the tank and unhook the chain from the internal lever. The chain can easily be reattached when the caregiver is satisfied that a bowel movement has occurred. Or, by simply inserting a hand down into the water reservoir and lifting the end of the chain closest to the valve, the toilet will flush. Though there may be some mineral residue in the tank, the water in it is clean, and the only down side is a wet hand.
SAFETY LATCHES FOR DOORS AND CABINETS
are recommended, and can be found at many discount and home improvement stores.
ADDITIONAL SAFETY TIPS FOR THE KITCHEN
- Be sure cleaning and other hazardous liquids are placed in locked or child-proof storage. Childproof door latches can be purchased, or, if practical depending on the person’s mobility and stature, latches can be installed high and out of reach of the person with dementia.
- Matches, knives, scissors, razor blades, and other sharp implements should be stored in a safe place.
- Many medications are to be given with a meal and are stored in the kitchen for easy access. These should be locked in a drawer or inaccessible cupboard.
- Persons with dementia may get up and wander at night, often going into the kitchen in search of food. Insert night lights or motion detector lights in hallways and rooms where they may wander.
- Avoid kitchen décor that resembles food. Persons with dementia may not realize the difference and try to eat wax fruit or refrigerator magnets shaped like food.
- Disconnect or safely store small appliances that grind, cut, or heat that could be accidentally activated. Automatic garbage disposals are particularly hazardous. They should be removed or place the switch in an inaccessible position or include as part of a master cut-off switch.
*Adapted from: Alzheimer’s Disease Education And Referral Center. (March, 2007). Home safety for people with Alzheimer’s disease.