Child Safety Knob Covers

There may come a time when you feel that it’s no longer safe for the person to use the stove. It’s never easy making this decision and it can be even harder figuring out a kind way to limit the person’s access to the stove. Some caregivers use stove knob covers that are designed to keep children from turning on the stove. But how well do these knob covers work for older adults with memory loss, poor judgment, and low stress thresholds?

 

A few things you need to know:

For those not familiar with the design of these knobs, a plastic cover fits over the existing stove knobs. If someone tries to turn the stove knob, the cover spins, but the stove knob should not turn.

The knob covers can be pulled off and the stove turned on. One caregiver told me that her husband not only pulled the covers off (with the stove knobs inside), but then used pliers to turn the stove on.

Some people will get upset. People react very differently when access to something is denied. One person may simply walk away if unable to turn the stove on. Yet another person who is used to cooking on a regular basis could become quite upset when they try to turn the knob and all they get is a spinning plastic cover.  Ron G, who lived with his mother, became increasingly concerned about her ability to cook safely by herself. So he installed child safety covers before he went to work one Monday morning. Left alone all day, his mother became so agitated at her inability to turn the stove on,  that she not only dismantled the stove but also emptied the kitchen cabinets onto the floor and countertops. Ron G was overwhelmed by this severe reaction and felt he had no choice but to place her in a nursing home. This situation could have been prevented if Ron G had he been warned that his mother could get very upset and frustrated by not being able to use the stove. Perhaps hiring a companion during the day to ease the transition would have helped.

If you need to limit access to the stove, be sure to:

  • Have someone there who can divert the person’s attention with other activities. Can      they do meal prep instead, for example, grate the cheese, scoop melon balls, or stir ingredients together?
  • Have other meal sources in place if the person lives alone or spends extended time by    themselves

Have you had to limit access to the stove? How did the person respond? Let’s share.

I'm an interior designer, gerontologist, author, blogger, and most importantly, a former caregiver to my mother, Arlene, who had Alzheimer's disease.
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5 Responses to Child Safety Knob Covers

  1. Mario says:

    I put child safety knobs on the stove for my wife and at first she cried and cried. It was awful. I wished I had known to give her something else to do. I just took away all her cooking responsibility and after reading this blog, I would have done it differently.

  2. Susie says:

    My husband found a way to pull them off and off he went and got a wrench from his toolbox and turned the controls on! Ours was an electric stove so I decided to turn the fuse off each time I went out and he was alone.

  3. Bobbie says:

    I used these knobs for my husband and he just walked away when he couldn’t turn the stove on and after a few days he just stopped trying. But then again, he wasn’t the cook in the house and just once in ahile he would heat up soup so maybe that’s why it didn’t bother him.

  4. Bristol says:

    Thought provoking article, Rosemary! I decided to try these knobs at my own home for a day before installing them on my Mother’s stove. What a lesson in patience! I was getting angry and frustrated that I did not have full capability at my stove! You don’t realize how often you go to the stove.. to make a cup of tea, to re-heat something, to grill a sandwich, to make a meal, etc. I am going to have to re-think this one. Thank you!

  5. Monte says:

    These stories are heart wrenching. It is so hard to take away activities that your loved one so once enjoyed. I like your suggestion on having them “help prep” the food as opposed to cooking it. Having them feel “important and involved” is still very important to them.

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