Senior Safety Tips for the Home

September 30, 2013

Preparing your home for an aging parent requires careful attention to senior home safety concerns.  A few simple modifications may protect against fall risks and other safety hazards that seniors face, especially when living in a new environment.

Ensuring that staircases have secure railings is a first step in home safety

Staircase hand rails are in important first step to ensuring senior home safety

Here are ten home safety tips to help you begin thinking about certain conditions in your home that may need attention:

  1. Install rail guards. Install guard rails in bathtubs and showers to help seniors avoid slips, but don’t stop there. Other areas of the house, such as hallways, may need guard rails as well. If your stairway does not already contain a banister, install one.
  2. Install reflector lights. Think about putting bicycle reflector lights on the stairs to provide extra guidance. Place them close to the wall or in another location where no one will trip over them.
  3. Provide wrist straps. If Mom or Dad regularly uses a cane, make sure it has a wrist strap attached to it and make sure your loved one uses that strap. With the strap, a cane can’t fall to the ground and a senior can’t accidentally take a tumble trying to pick it up.
  4. Use baby monitors.  These can be useful for checking in on Grandmother while she sleeps.
  5. Install elevated toilet seats. Consider installing an elevated toilet seat, which is a few inches higher than a typical one. The slight elevation makes it easier for older individuals to sit and rise.
  6. Remove door locks. Although this may not be popular with other members of the family, remove any locks on bathroom doors. If a loved one falls while in the bathroom, in-home caregivers need to be able to get to him or her quickly.
  7. Label any poisons. If you have any poisons in the house, make sure they are very clearly labeled: try putting a large red “x” across the front and make sure your loved one knows that any such bottles should not be touched.
  8. Lower closet rods. Lowering closet rods will help to make the rods more easily accessible and will prevent a senior from reaching too high and possibly straining a muscle or losing balance.
  9. Remove floor clutter. Clutter is an accident waiting to happen. Enlist the help of all household members to keep the floors clean and clear.
  10. Place frequently-used items on accessible shelves. If your loved one is still active in the kitchen, arrange things so that the items he or she typically uses (e.g., plates, particular cooking ingredients, etc.) are easily accessible shelves.

There are many, many other tips that can come in handy when working to make a home senior-safe, but these are a good start.  For additional resources and information check out the Administration on Aging for modification guidelines, home inspection tips, and renovation resources.

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