www.bcs.org.au Kitchen Help Sheet 3.6 Living with dementia - how the environment, technology and you can help This help sheet provides information Person Centred Response on how assistive technology and All of us have different needs and respond to both the environment environmental adaptation may be and other people around us in different ways. It is critical that any used in the kitchen to support the decision to change the environment or use technology follows independence, safety and security of a person-centred assessment, where the perspectives, needs and people living at home with dementia. choices of the person with dementia are understood and respected. Appliances used in the kitchen, such as What works for some people does not always work for others. It is the stove, toaster and microwave oven, important to continue to provide ongoing evaluation to ensure that have the potential to cause harm if not any technology or strategies used for supporting independence and used in the manner intended. Serious safety in the home, remains meaningful to the person and match injury or death can occur as a result of their needs and abilities. electrocution or fire. Cleaning products and some food products can also be hazardous. Environmental Suggestions There are a number of simple things that can be tried to make the environment more supportive to both the person with dementia and those around them. Only change what needs changing, and keep the kitchen as familiar as possible. • A split door or barn style door, while providing a person with dementia with an opportunity to see you, also assists with preventing access to the kitchen area during busy times; and • Labels or signs on cupboards, or removing cupboard doors, eliminate the need to remember what is in the cupboard. Simple Technology Suggestions • Kettle – most kettles are now sold with automatic cut off switches that prevent the kettle from boiling dry. Some kettles have the added safety feature of not being able to switch on unless the minimum required water has been added. Retractable or spiral safety cords also reduce the risk of appliance cords on a bench top getting in the way. • A Shallow Depth Fridge may make finding contents in the fridge easier. Cupboards with glass panels • Oven Guard – this is a protective cover placed over the oven allow cupboard contents to be door to act as a heat barrier and prevent contact burns. These seen easily covers can be attached to the oven door with magnets or Velcro Training to care for people with dementia and are constructed from fire • Plug-In Gas Alarms plug resistant material. directly into the power point and • A Lockable Cabinet that can be detect escaping gas or unignited mounted on the wall or placed gas. The detectors emit an alarm inside a cupboard out of view to alert the householder. There is useful for storing household are both LPG and Natural Gas cleaning products that are alarms available for purchase poisonous. They can be purchased with instructions for placement of from most larger hardware outlets the alarm based on the type of gas or homeware stores. in your home. • Circuit Breakers provide short Finding Products circuit and over-current protection. Advanced Technology For information about specific Safety switches monitor the flow products and where to get them, see of electricity through a circuit and Suggestions www.dementiatechnology.org.au detect a problem which may pose • The Vigil Electric or Gas Professional assessment is advised a risk to personal safety and turn Stove Isolation System is a before any changes are made or the power off. It is worthwhile stove isolation system that will products purchased. To find the best to review if your home has these automatically switch the stove solution for your needs and to avoid installed. If not, your local energy off after 20 minutes. There is unnecessary expense, contact the supplier may be able to assist. a bypass switch that allows Independent Living Centre. • Appliance Locks can be used on relatives or carers to use the a microwave oven, fridge, oven, stove for up to two hours. A Further Information or other household appliances. licensed gas fitter is required for Technology and the way individuals The locks can be useful if there a gas stove fitting and a licensed relate to it are constantly changing. is a concern that the person electrician is recommended for For further information, a dementia with dementia is not able to use electric stoves. friendly home checklist and to household items safely. These • Induction Cook Top – these view other Help Sheets about products can be self installed and cook tops are electronically how the environment, technology purchased from hardware stores operated and produce heat only and you can help, please see or stores where children’s safety within the cooking utensils and www.dementiatechnology.org.au or products are sold. not on the hotplates. call 1300 275 227 (1300 ASK BCS). • Velcro Strips which are double • Wireless Smoke Detectors use a sided and adhesive may be base unit linked to a telephone in For further information and to discuss successful in securing appliance the home. They are designed to your individual needs and: doors. For the best results the alert the resident and a call centre • assistive technology or home Velcro should be similar in colour if smoke is detected. modifications, contact the Independent to the product so that it blends. If Living Centre at www.ilcaustralia.org • Automated Home Systems use possible, place the Velcro discreetly or 1300 885 886; wireless or ‘hard wiring’ systems. to reduce its visibility to the person • dementia, contact The National They can be programmed with dementia. Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500, to operate curtains, lights, or Alzheimer’s Australia at • ‘Mag Lock’ – this discreet heating, and security, as well as www.alzheimers.org.au. magnetic lock system can be monitoring the use of equipment used on drawers and cupboards such as the cooker, the fridge For information about local care and or anywhere in the home. It was and water usage. The system can support services, including respite designed to be invisible, with the identify if the cooker has been for carers, phone Commonwealth locking component fitted to the left on for an extended period, Respite and Carelink Centres on inside of the cupboard or drawer, monitor when the resident has freecall 1800 052 222*. For emergency while the magnetic key operates left their home or when they have respite support outside business hours, the lock from outside the drawer. It returned. It notifies a carer, or phone freecall 1800 059 059* (*Calls can be installed on wood, plastics, call centre, if there are changes from mobile phones are charged at laminates and ceramic tiles and to a person’s regular routine that applicable rates). does not draw attention to the fact indicate they may be unwell or that the cupboard is locked. injured. The information on this help sheet was produced with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Help Sheet 3.6 | Nov08 Ageing under the Dementia Initiative. The views expressed on this help sheet are not necessarily those of the Department.