Aging in Place: Home Safety for Elderly Adults

The advantages of aging in place include added comfort, security, and sense of independence for your senior loved one(s). If you’re worried about home safety for the elderly, know that your concern is totally valid — and that there are tips and resources available to help keep seniors safe at home.

Maintaining home safety for elderly living alone improves their overall health, reduces their risk of injury, helps them maintain their independence, and improves quality of life, not just for them but also for their loved ones who care for them.

Senior home safety must be a priority for primary and professional caregivers. We’ve gathered some general advice to help you facilitate aging in place safety.

Senior Home Safety Checklist

One of the most popular and most effective plans for keeping seniors safe at home is to follow an aging-in-place home safety checklist. Following a checklist that has room-by-room instructions makes safety-proofing a home for elderly easier and more thorough.

The Bedroom

Bedrooms are notorious for trip hazards, especially if the floors are uncarpeted and there are area rugs and runners that have been placed. All trip hazards must be removed, including cords, rugs, and anything jutting out into walking paths that might be tripped over. 

Install bed rails or adjust the height of your loved one’s bed to assist fall prevention efforts. You should also install easily accessible light sources near the bed and doorway.

Set up a bedside commode if needed, and add a sturdy chair to the room for support and for dressing. Medical alert devices should be near the bed on a nightstand, along with any chargers that are needed for those devices.

The Bathroom

In the bathroom, non-skid mats should always be used to prevent dangerous slips and falls. Grab handles should be installed near the shower or bath entry to provide support for seniors getting in and out to bathe.

In addition, the “hot” and “cold” faucet handles should be clearly marked to prevent burns. You may want to install a raised toilet seat so your loved one doesn’t have to get down as far toward the floor. 

Consider adding a walk-in tub, a shower chair, and/or a shower bench to walk-in showers for seniors who have trouble entering and exiting a traditional bathtub and shower.

The Kitchen

The kitchen can be a dangerous room for obvious reasons, and is one of the most important areas to safety proof in the home for the elderly. Things like adding lever handles and temperature controls for the faucets, installing a finger-safe garbage disposal cover, and keeping sharp items in blocks, not loose in a drawer can eliminate a lot of potential accidents. 

In addition, you should move all fire hazards away from the stove, including curtains, paper towels, napkins, and anything else that is flammable. Rearrange items on shelves so that the most frequently used ones are low and toward the front. Add automatic shut-off timers for stoves and ovens, too.

The Living Room

Unsecured rug edges are some of the most frequently tripped-over items in living rooms, family rooms, and dens, so secure all rug edges or remove rugs entirely. Install outlets at heights that are easily accessible for your loved one, so they don’t have to get close to the floor and risk falling. 

Remove all unnecessary furniture as well as decor that can present trip hazards. You may want to consider adjusting the height of the seating in the room to make sitting and standing easier and safer for your loved one. 

Consider a smart home system to help your loved one with phone calls, answering the door, and controlling the thermostat, radio, and television. Introducing technology to a senior may seem like a daunting task for both of you, but it’s not impossible. Though it may take some extra time and effort, the outcome will (more than likely) be well worth it. 

Stair Safety for Elderly Adults

After you’ve gone room by room, it’s time to focus on the stairs (if applicable). Many older adults remain downstairs most of the time, avoiding unnecessary trips up and down the stairs. However, this isn’t always a feasible option for all seniors who want to age in place at home.

The best way to ensure stair safety for elderly adults is to make adjustments that eliminate the need for them to use the stairs. Move what is needed to the main floor of the house, whether it’s moving a freezer up from the basement or an entire bedroom down from the upstairs.

If daily stair use is inevitable, consider having a stairlift chair professionally installed to take your loved one up and down the stairs.

Keeping Seniors Safe at Home With the Help of a Professional

Home care professionals can assist your elderly loved one with everything from remembering to take their medications and taking care of their pet to light housekeeping and providing transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, and other destinations.If you’d like an in-home assessment for the elderly or more information on how home care services can help the elderly stay safe at home, reach out to the friendly staff at Advanced Nursing + Home Support today.