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Safety is a common concern and consideration for people living with a diagnosis of dementia, their family, friends and health care practitioners. Considering safety for persons living with a rare or young onset dementia can result in maintaining quality of life and dignity. Common safety concerns include falls, food safety, traffic safety, prevention of wandering, and safety with medications. Often safety can be a difficult issue as family members, people living with dementia and health care providers may all have different perspectives on issues of safety. Safety is an important factor to living well in the face of a diagnosis of rare or young onset dementia, and we know that better equipping family and friends to assist a person living with dementia is a fundamental component of safety for people living at home.

Generally, safety considerations can be thought of within four different categories. These include protecting physical safety, economic safety, emotional safety and relational safety.

Physical Safety

  • Being free from physical abuse.
  • Having a preventative presence available for assistance.
  • Appropriate protective aids, tailored to the person's physical needs and physical environment.
  • Monitoring by health professionals for safety considerations such as driving and/or continuing to work.

Economic Safety

  • Being free from financial abuse.
  • Prevention of unnecessary spending.
  • Maintaining dignity through practical assistance.

Emotional Safety

  • Being free from mental or emotional abuse.
  • Maintaining dignity.
  • Preventing loneliness.
  • Promoting positive moments and positive feelings.

Relational Safety

  • Safety in community in interactions with others.
  • Technology and virtual communications.

In the case of physical safety appropriate protective aids may include stove guards, electronic calendars, portable alarms and single dose or secure medication containers. We know that the protective factors needed for all areas of safety will be dependent on an individual’s living situation, connection and relationship with family and friends and their own individual physical, economic, emotional and relational needs.  

While discussions around appropriate safety measures can be challenging, having a comprehensive safety plan in place becomes an important tool for all as dementia progresses through the stages. Each individual living with a diagnosis of rare or young onset dementia, their family and their friends may problem solve safety concerns in different ways. Attending groups with Rare Dementia Support Canada is one way that both family and friends and people living with a diagnosis may hear ideas from other people who share similar experiences.


Eligibility and process for accessible parking passes will be determined by each individual province. Generally, to receive an accessible parking pass you will need to have your primary health care practitioner certify that you match the provincial criteria for the pass. In most provinces there are different types of accessible parking permits, you may be most eligible for a permit for a permanent disability. If you are traveling outside of your province, you may also be eligible for a traveler’s permit, details regarding traveler's permits can be found on the individual provincial websites.

Transport Canada has federal regulations that require mutual recognition of parking permits for persons with disabilities in all provinces and territories. Information from Transport Canada, and links to all provincial applications for accessible parking permits may be found here: Mutual Recognition of Parking Badges Agreement for Persons with Disabilities

Often there are adaptations that can happen at home that can make it easier to move around the house. It can be helpful to talk with an Occupational Therapist in your home community about what changes you may be able to make in order to maintain independence in the home. Examples of adaptations can include installing rails in the bath or shower, arranging furniture so that it is easier or safer to travel from one room to another, lighting arrangements that may allow the person living with dementia to navigate more easily. This type of information sharing is a common content in our support groups.

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from talking to one of our support specialists please register for membership and we will follow up with more details, our support specialist can also help you to discover where you may be able to access occupational therapy in your own community.

If you need to make physical changes in your home there may be province specific funding for these types of changes, additionally you may be eligible for tax credits or deductions available to persons with disabilities.

Lots of people have said that they find cooking increasingly difficult as their dementia progresses. Although it is something that we can take for granted, cooking is a complex process with many steps to follow. We need to hold information in memory, sequence actions that are happening at different times and follow instructions. It is not surprising that cooking can be affected by several different types of dementia. Some people living with dementia talk about cooking as part of a pair so that the person with dementia can focus on the task while a support person may oversee coordinating the cooking process, this can help to ensure safety when the stove is being used.

When using a gas stove for cooking one option for safety is a locking cooker valve (LCV). This simple valve is fitted to your stove and can be locked to stop the gas supply thereby eliminating the risk of the stove being turned on and/or left on. LCV’s are widely available for purchase through major appliance and hardware stores in Canada. It is important to note that LCV’s need to be installed by a professional.

One option in this case is to look at a medical alert, or medical ID for the person. Medical Alert is a Canadian Foundation that provides medical alert products with an internationally recognized symbol. Paramedics, Fire Fighters and Police are all trained to look for medical alerts. There are some specifically designed for people who are exit seeking and/or living with a memory-led dementia. The custom medical ID jewelry provides access to medical information stored on a secure electronic record, 24/7, 365 days of the year. You can find out more on the Medial Alert website.

Both wandering and falls have been identified as a primary concern for family and friends of persons living with a diagnosis. For further discussion on safety and preventative practices family members and friends may consider registering with Rare Dementia Canada for attendance at a Family and Friends Virtual Support Group.

There are several things that can increase the likelihood of falls, such as: low blood pressure, mobility and balance issues, visual impairment and taking medications that may increase drowsiness. If you are concerned with fall, or think your falls risk has increased, please consider talking with your family doctor. It is important to try and minimize these risks where possible, such as: using mobility aids, ensuring good lighting around the home and ensuring medication is monitored closely.

There are some challenges with sight and mobility that are unique to the different rare and young onset dementia diagnosis. Safety and mobility is a common part of discussions during our diagnostic specific support group sessions. If you would like to register for groups or talk to one of our support specialists, please register for membership to do so.  

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers information on fall prevention on their website, you may also find services from your local health unit.

It is important to note that walking can be a huge source of independence, as well as a good form of exercise, and people living with dementia have shared that they want to maintain independence with walking if it’s safe to do so. This is why it’s important to look at alternatives to ending a walking routine by building safety tools when needed. There are several Apps and GPS locating devices available for use in Canada. Assistive technology can improve independence, safety, communication and well-being for persons living with dementia.

Assistive technology also has the potential to reduce the stress and worry that may be felt by family or friends. Assistive technology has been shown to reduce the risk of falls and accidents. These tools can be used to help find someone when they are out walking if there is a concern they may be lost. For example, you can use: watches with a GPS Tracker, Tiles.

Further additional information on assistive technology and home safety have a look at the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Forward with Dementia websites: