Small Appliances Off-Limits
Make the Microwave, Toaster, and Toaster Oven Off-Limits


It's important to understand that that no solutions are fail proof for someone with dementia. What may work for one person may only work briefly – or not at all – for another person. So make sure to assess the safety of each intervention on an on-going basis. You also may need to try several before you find the one that works best for your care receiver.

1. Ease the Transition

Individuals with dementia will respond differently when access to cooking is denied. Someone accustomed to cooking on a regular basis could become upset when he/she is denied access to an appliance. To ease the transition, make sure to have:
Other activities that the person can enjoys
Healthy snacks out on the counter in a brightly colored, easy-to-find basket
Alternative meal sources in place if the person lives alone or spends extended time by themselves


2. Unplug and Cover the Outlet
Unplug the appliance during the hours you don't want the person using the appliance. For some people, this will be enough to deter them.

For others, you'll need to cover the outlet to deter them from putting the plug back in. Some caregivers:
Hang a picture or other item over the outlet. For some people, if they can't see it, it doesn't exist.
Install an outlet cover that makes the outlet difficult for a person with dementia to use.


3. Use the Lockout Feature (microwaves and electronic toaster ovens)
Check the microwave manual to see if it has a child safety lockout feature that allows you to deactivate the keypad. Some of the newer electronic toaster ovens also include this safety feature.

Safety Wise
Care recipients may learn how to unlock the keypad.
Care recipients may not be able to use the new microwave or toaster oven if it works differently than the one they have been using previously. Depending on the situation, this may work in your favor.


4. Install a Lock
Two basic types of appliance "locks" are on the market:
1.A "child safety lock" is a plastic latch with double-sided tape that open/closes when the prongs, tabs, or catches are squeezed or pressed. However, because it isn't a real lock, the person may be able to release the device and use the appliance.
2.A metal lock that attaches to the end of the plug and requires a key to open/lock.


5. Install a GFI Outlet to Turn Off Power at the Outlet
A ground fault interrupter (GFI) outlet immediately cuts off power if an appliance comes in contact with water, protecting the person from shock. These special outlets have "test" and "reset" buttons, which you can use to turn off the outlet's power.

To turn outlet off: Press the black "test" button; in this mode, the outlet's power is turned off and the appliance will not work.

To turn outlet on: Press the red "reset" button.

Safety Wise:

This intervention may not work if:
The care receiver is familiar with GFI outlets.
The care receiver fiddles with buttons and objects.
Several appliances are controlled by one GFI outlet and you need one appliance on and the other off. (See an electrician for more information.)


6. Install a Plug-In Appliance Timer
If you're only worried about unsupervised appliance usage at certain times of the day, an appliance timer may be an effective intervention, depending upon the individual.

For example, if the person wanders at night, set the timer to turn the appliance off at bedtime (e.g., 10:00 pm) and on again in the morning (e.g., 7:00 am).

To use, plug the timer into a 3 prong outlet, and then plug the appliance into the timer.

Safety Wise:
Make sure to get a timer that is rated for the appliance you're using. For example, you don't need a "heavy duty" appliance timer for a microwave, but you must use one for a toaster oven.
Some individuals may be bothered by the presence of the timer, tamper with the controls, or even unplug the timer.


7. Remove the Plug or the Unit Itself
At times, the only safe intervention may be to deny complete usage by making the appliance inoperable or by completely removing it.

Making the Appliance Inoperable

Some caregivers disable the appliance (e.g., remove the plug) if they think the care receiver would get upset if the appliance was removed. When this method is successful, caregivers report that the person forgets about the appliance as time goes by.

Removing the Appliance

Some persons become upset when they see the appliance but can't use it. In that situation, it's best to remove it.

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