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.