Living alone

8. Staying safe and independent at home

There are lots of ways you can make your home ‘dementia friendly’. This means that it is set up to help you stay independent, physically active and safe.

This is more important when you live alone. You may not have someone around who can help you if something goes wrong, or you may forget to do things, such as turning the gas off. By making some of the small changes listed below you will be able to stay independent and living alone for longer.

You might not feel that you need to do all of these things now, but it can be a good idea to put things in place before you need them.

  • Have carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors fitted. Contact your local fire service to arrange a free home fire safety check.
  • Simple things like improving lighting, removing any trip hazards (for example loose rugs) and clutter and unused items can make your home safer.
  • Leave a light on in the bathroom at night. Night lights or lights connected to motion sensor that come on when you move about may help.
  • Register with MedicAlert® and Message in a Bottle so that your wishes are known in an emergency. See ‘Other useful organisations’ for details.
  • Leave a set of house keys with a neighbour you trust or install a key safe (a safe on the outside of your house that can only be accessed by entering the correct code).
  • Keep a list of emergency telephone numbers by the phone. You could also save them on your phone to make it easier.
  • Think about technology that could help you. For example, there are ‘shut-off’ devices that turn off the gas or electricity after a set amount of time. You can also get alarms that you wear as pendants or bracelets that you can set off if you become worried or have a fall.
  • Telecare, a remotely operated care system, links sensors around your home to a call centre by a telephone line. The sensors monitor movement in your home and alert the centre if things go wrong. For example, sensors can detect if you fall.

An occupational therapist can assist if you think equipment or adaptations might help. Your local authority social services team can help with accessing occupational therapy. Alternatively, your GP can refer you.

For more on this topic see Keeping safe at home and Making your home dementia friendly.