Laundry Pods A Danger For Adults With Dementia

New parents are familiar with all the safety precautions they must take once baby becomes mobile;  keeping cleaning products out of reach, drawers containing knives carefully latched and electric cords away from quick little hands.  But caregivers of older adults with dementia can have an equally challenging task anticipating what might be cause for concern.

A recent Consumer Reports news release warns that liquid laundry detergent pods are a risk for adults with dementia.  Eight deaths in the United States between 2012 and 2017  were related to ingesting liquid laundry packs; six were adults with dementia.

The pods are brightly colored and can appear to children or adults with cognitive problems as a toy or candy.   Many adults with dementia will eat things they should not and the concentrated detergent in laundry or dishwasher tabs can lead to poisoning and even death.  It is not uncommon for people with moderate to severe dementia to eat things that are not food, and items that could appear to be candy are a temptation to individuals who may be increasingly putting things in their mouths.

Detergent pods or packets are generally more concentrated than conventional detergent and although some manufacturers have voluntarily included a bitter-tasting additive in their formulation or have made the outer film slower to dissolve, they still account for substantially more poison-center calls requiring medical treatment.

What Can Caregivers Do at Home?

  • Remove all cleaning products that look like food from the home.
  • Try to keep household cleaners non-toxic if possible.
  • Keep all cleaning products in original packaging in case of an emergency
  • Separate cleaning products from food in a locked cabinet
  • Watch for changes in behavior.  Remove small items that could be choking hazards if the person with dementia starts putting things in their mouth.

To read more about the health hazards associated with laundry detergent pods visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by following this link.