*This post is sponsored by the American Cleaning Institute to help educate people about the importance of laundry safety, including the proper storage and handling of liquid laundry packets. You can find our disclosure page here.
Safety Throughout the Home: Caring for Older Adults
There is nothing better than watching my children play with their grandparents. We just spent a fun-filled week visiting family in Sacramento, and my 4-year-old daughter has asked at least a dozen times when she gets to see Grandma and Papa again.
And (not surprisingly) she has already started planning for their visit to see us over the holiday season.
But Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and with the holidays approaching things will start to get even busier.
The holidays are right around the corner.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed as a busy mom who is trying to hold down the fort at home and plan for the holidays. Trust me, I get it. My life feels like an earthquake at times as a busy ER nurse and mom with two toddlers.
That is why I think there is an aspect of safety-proofing the home that often gets overlooked – keeping the home safety-proofed for older family members with dementia or other cognitive decline.
Especially when it’s something you aren’t used to doing or in the habit of preparing for.
Dementia is a serious issue among older adults.
A recent study estimated that 8.8 % of adults aged 65 and older in the United States had dementia in 2012. That corresponds to about 3.65 million people!
Seeing a loved one with dementia is one of the hardest things you can face. In fact, it has been so hard for me to watch my own Dad, who I have always viewed as a powerful figure, succumb to poor health.
I understand it is my responsibility to keep him safe. And by not accepting his situation as it is, I could make it worse. Which is why when you have older family members with memory loss or confusion, it is so important not to forget to safety-proof the laundry room!
It really does seem that the laundry room just doesn’t get as much love when it comes to safety-proofing, and I really want to change that.
Proper laundry room safety.
In my own experience as an emergency room nurse I have witnessed what can happen when confused adults experience accidental exposures. It is always horribly scary for them, and in every instance, completely preventable.
And every time it happens, both the patient and the family are devastated. They didn’t think that their loved ones were confused enough to accidentally ingest a cleaning product.
But just like we baby-proof our homes for our kids, adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s need to be protected as well.
Because adults suffering from dementia and other cognitive disabilities can get confused easily and accidents can happen in an instant.
Accidental exposure to liquid laundry packets can be prevented by taking a few simple steps to ensure they are used and stored safely.
Safety is always the #1 goal (because you don’t think something can happen…until it does)
As a busy mother, I understand how easy it is to forget to safety-proof your home. But if you take a few simple steps and have systems in place that will prevent accidents from happening, you can keep your family safe.
After all, most accidents that bring our family members to the emergency room can be prevented and avoided altogether.
So in honor of my desire to encourage families to take an active stance in safety-proofing their homes, my #1 safety message this year is to encourage parents to put their Packets UP!
Simple caregiver safety tips in the laundry room
Step #1: Keep laundry packets out of reach
If you are caring for an individual who shows the signs or symptoms of dementia, make sure all cleaning products, including liquid laundry packets, are stored in a locked cabinet or a closet.
If you don’t have a cabinet available, place liquid laundry packets (in the original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where those at risk won’t be able to see or reach them.
Step #2: Keep laundry packets out of site
While clear or glass jars can be a creative way to display household items, storing liquid laundry packets visibly in these jars could be confusing for adults with memory impairments. Keep liquid laundry packets tightly secured in their original packaging, stored up and out of reach.
Tip: If you have other family at home, teach them that they need to let you know immediately if they see any liquid laundry packets out.
Step #3: Separate laundry packets from groceries
When purchasing liquid laundry packets and other household cleaners from the store, have them bagged separately and put them away in their designated safe storage spot – out of sight and out of reach – as soon as you get home as you unpack your groceries.
Step #4: Make safety checks a priority
Conduct routine safety checks in the home to prevent accidents.
Tips: Consider ordering a free reminder cling from PacketsUp.com. Hang this sticker in the laundry room to remind yourself to check your laundry packets and make sure they are stored properly and out of children’s reach. If you have a housekeeper or someone else who does the laundry, have a conversation with them about how important it is that they also follow your laundry room safety rules.
If a liquid laundry packet is ingested:
Call the Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) immediately if a liquid laundry packet is ingested.
I hope this messaging helps others understand how important it is to practice laundry safety when family with dementia are visiting, including properly storing and handling liquid laundry packets.
Let’s have ZERO accidental laundry product exposures this and every year. Safety first!!
Remember these key laundry packet safety points:
- It is so important to store liquid laundry packets up high and out of sight and reach.
- Don’t forget to completely close and seal liquid laundry packet containers after use.
- Finally, always store liquid laundry packets in their original containers.
Additional caregiver resources:
- American Cleaning Institute’s safety tips for caregivers
- Caregiver Action Network
- National Institute on Aging
- Alzheimer’s Association
For more information about the Packets Up campaign:
Visit packetsup.com for more information and tools to help you prevent exposures from liquid laundry packets.
You can also join the conversation: follow #PacketsUp for the latest laundry room safety tips and information.
Order a free cling and put it on your cabinet as a safe storage reminder.
Happy holidays and stay safe!
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❤️ Patient & RN Advocate
🖥 Blogger/Freelance Writer
🏥 Urban Zen Integrative Therapist