How many of you really care about the home safety for seniors in your family? Do you realize that most elders are vulnerable to accidents at home?
If you do, then you understand that senior home safety is a crucial matter.
I’m sure you all have elders at home, or have them living independently. This post relates to all of you in more ways than you think.
Caring for the home safety for elderly in your family is your responsibility. They took care of you when you were a child – now it’s your turn to give back, isn’t it?
If you don’t, then you might end up using more of your valuable time in looking after your loved seniors. That would be if, for God forbid, there is a mishap or the elderly suffer from some injury just because the house was not safe.
Taking care of their safety at home is essential because most seniors prefer staying in their own house as long as they can.
And why wouldn’t they want to – it’s the place where they’ve lived all their lives and raised a family.
They are attached to their neighbors, and have close ties with friends and family. They are familiar with the amenities around like the grocery store or their favorite walking trail they take to each day.
When I suggested my Dad and in-laws to move out of their big houses to residential flats so that it becomes safer and easier to live, both stressed on to continue living where they had lived for years.
I agreed because I think more than anything else, its their feelings and memories that need to be respected.
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~ Maya Angelou
What is the Need to Make Homes Safe for the Elderly
Besides being more comfortable for some seniors, staying at home also works out better economically. However, as the elderly become more fragile and old, living at home can become risky and difficult.
Here are a few main reasons why you need to take the senior home safety measures –
- Health problems and the side effects of medications or other ailments can increase their chances of injury at home.
- One of the leading causes of death in adults 65 and older is falling, which often results in broken hip bones. Check out this fall prevention checklist for older adults.
- Healing in old age takes time. Sometimes the elderly can get bed-ridden permanently due to some ailment or diseases, or even face complications if they suffer head injury due to the fall.
In such cases, when the elders in your family aren’t willing to move out to safer places, it’s essential to make simple changes and make sure their home safety so that they can be taken care of and are comfortable.
Remember, old age is similar to your childhood years. Just like kids, even your elders are vulnerable to injuries and accidents.
I feel the ideal home safety measure for elders is that they have their house on the ground floor, unless there is an elevator or the stairs have very low steps, which are easy to climb.
I’ve my Dad and my in-laws staying on the first floor, but they both have the option to move to the ground floor as age catches up. That would be any day safer and better for them.
If you have elderly at home, you might like to read a post I’d written on the different ways to take care of elderly people.
Home safety for seniors is essential for those living alone. You need to ensure whether they can access help in case of an emergency.
Did you know that June is the senior home safety month? However, why should you wait for any particular month to ensure that the home is safe for older people, isn’t it?
Here is what all you can do to make the home of seniors safe from all aspects.
“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” ~ Tia Walker
6 Areas and 60 Tips on Home Safety for Seniors
These are few of the tips for home safety for elderly people, though there is a lot more you can add to this list.
This post is dedicated to my Dad, in-laws, and all seniors out there, because we care for their safety, don’t we?
Most of these tips are what I’ve observed people carry out, while some I’ve tried, and the others are based on research I conducted to share with all of you and add value to this post.
I- General Home Safety
Senior citizens may have problems with their balance, walking, or have poor eyesight and other health issues.
You need to make sure that the home safety for seniors in such cases is foolproof and the home is secure.
- Front and back doors need to have strong bolt locks, and if possible even a burglar alarm system. It’s a good idea to have peephole for the outside door so that you can see who is at the door before opening it.
- You can even install the video call security system that’s easily available these days for additional security.
- If seniors at your home use a cane or a walker, put rubber tips on its base so it doesn’t skid. If they use crutches, clean the lower base with an abrasive pad.
- Avoid using slippery wax on the floors.
- Ensure that your seniors wear proper fitting shoes with no, or low heels. They shouldn’t wear socks without shoes, especially on smooth floors.
- If you live in a place that gets ice or snow in winters, have someone sprinkle sand or salt on the steps to avoid them from becoming slippery.
- Remove telephone or electrical cords from the busy areas of the house. Tack or tape them to the walls instead.
- Don’t allow your elders to stand on chairs or ladders. If they do, then they should use a step stool with handrails.
- Add railings fixed to the walls in the areas that are difficult to navigate.
- Instead of doorknobs, have levers – as they are easier to use for seniors.
- Make sure the house is lit well, especially areas like the porches and outer walkways.
- Repair uneven joints and holes on walkways. Arrange to have dead leaves removed from there too.
- Have an emergency escape plan ready, in-case of fire, earthquake or any other emergency.
- Ensure that the cell phone of seniors has a list of emergency numbers and it also has your address fed in.
II- Stairways Safety
For added home safety for elderly, ideally, there’s no reason for seniors to use the staircase and stairways.
They should live at the main level of the house and have all their amenities at that level. However, it that’s not possible, take the following precautions:
- Seniors should have an entrance without steps. However, if that’s not possible, purchase a stair-lift for the stairs, or at least have sturdy rails for the stairs.
- The staircase should not be open to the side opposite the wall. It should have a railing to prevent falling.
- Ensure that the staircase is well-lit with switches at the top and bottom.
- The steps of the staircase should have a non-slippery surface. Their surface should be even with no rubber mats or metal strips that might cause tripping.
III- Room Safety
Bedroom or the living room is the area where the seniors usually spend most of their time at home. Living here for the elderly should be very comforting, convenient, and pleasant.
- Store bed covering, clothing, and other household items where they are easily accessible and within easy reach.
- Remove plants, small tables, boxes, and other smaller items from traffic areas.
- Consider installing monitors and intercom.
- Place a lamp and a telephone near the bed.
- Consider using a buddy system or a medical alert system.
- Seniors should avoid smoking in bed or when alone, and be very careful if they do so because of the danger of fire.
- Install a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in each floor. Keep a check on the battery!
- Ensure that the light switch is next to the room entrance so that the lights can be switched on before entering the room.
- If anything spills, the elderly have to ensure to wipe it off properly to prevent them from slipping.
- Remove ALL kinds of scatter and slippery rugs. The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests removing any rugs that aren’t secure.
IV- Furniture Safety
Though furniture is an important accessory for homes, it can prove risky is it’s not in compliance to the needs of the seniors for their safety.
- Dispose off any furniture that is not needed.
- Place the remaining furniture in such a way that there is space to walk about comfortably, especially for a senior with a walker or wheelchair.
- In case of an emergency, where you’re required to move a wheelchair or hospital bed through the doorways, plan to leave enough space (at least of 32” clear).
- Remove or replace doors that close too rapidly or on their own. For those who are frail or on wheelchairs, they can put in automatic door openers. Use remote control for doors or switches if need be.
- Ensure the furniture doesn’t move once it’s leaned on. You can place rubber tops to the legs.
- Add cushioning or padding to the sharp corners on cabinets, tables, vanities and other furniture.
- Remove any kind of raised doorway thresholds.
- Repair raised areas of flooring and replace loose carpets.
V- Bathroom Safety
Accidents in the bathrooms that occur due to slipping are very common. You can easily prevent them by taking these senior home safety measures for the elderly.
- Leave a light switched on in your bathroom and hallway at night.
- Install grab handles in the bathroom.
- Ensure that the bath mat has a non-slippery bottom and skid-proof the bathtub if you use it. Place them even near the toilet, sink, and shower.
- Use door locks that be opened from both sides. Better still, if you are just living alone, keep the door a little ajar while bathing – don’t lock it.
- Use bath benches, shower chairs, or a bath stool while bathing.
- When seniors get into the shower or tub, they should put the weaker leg in first. When they come out of the shower or tub, they must use their strong leg first. This helps to get a better grasp or hold.
- Turn the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to avoid scalds.
- Ensure to mark the cold and hot faucets properly.
- Ensure the shower curtain is strong enough and doesn’t come down if grasped or tugged. Install a rod that’s bolted to the wall.
- It’s better to use a liquid dispenser in the shower to avoid slipping when trying to pick up a dropped bar of soap.
VI- Kitchen Safety
Seniors might use their kitchen more when they live all by themselves. Take all precautionary measures to keep them safe from any accidental hazards.
- Store sharp knives or other such in a rack.
- Store heavy objects at waist level.
- Place items used often within easy reach.
- Any kind of hazardous items should be stored separate from food.
- Ensure the work area is well-lit.
- Keep the floors clean and uncluttered.
- When seniors cook near the stove, they shouldn’t wear long and loose clothes.
- Use bright colors to mark the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions on appliances.
- If seniors use a kettle, make sure it has an automatic shut off.
- Check the expiry dates on food items before using them.
- Keep microwave dishes separate from the others so that the elders are clearly able to decipher them.
- Label the food items with large fonts as it becomes easier to make out what to use.
- Keep chemicals, cleaning supplies, and flammable liquids out of the kitchen and in a closed cabinet.
- Seniors should use heat-resistant oven mitts rather than potholders. That’s because they give a better grip on hot containers besides protecting against splatter and steam.
Simple and small changes in and around the house can help ensure the home safety for elders. Most of the above mentioned changes are easy and inexpensive.
Of all the areas at home, I find the bathroom as the most dangerous one. I lost my aunt a few years back and recently one of them suffered from multiple fractures in her leg. Both of them fell in the bathroom.
This prompted me to come up with this post. As it could happen with anyone, and we all need to take care and preventive measures. I hope this message spreads to all homes and families.
“Anything that we can do to improve the lives of elderly people is welcome so far as I am concerned.” ~ Judi Dench
If you are preparing for an elder or parent to stay in your home, you need to reconsider these tips.
Here is another checklist on home safety for older people you’d love to go through. 🙂
So, now that you know all that it takes to care for the home safety for seniors, what are you waiting for? Go on and make the necessary arrangements so that they live a happy and comfortable life! 🙂
Over to you –
If you’ve an elder at home, what senior home safety measures do you take? Do you think you could add more to this list on home safety for elderly? Please share your additional tips and experiences to help others in the comments.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos
Posted on: March 25th, 2014
Last Updated on: May 26th, 2015