Don’t Miss These Tips on Home Safety for Seniors

- | 69 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

A senior lady emphasizing the home safety for seniors to family

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 do this beforehand, then you might end up using more of your valuable time and money 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 to their home so that they can be taken care of and are comfortable.

Another thing that you should do to take care of the elderly in your home is to make sure that are covered with a health care policy. In the present times, its a challenge to provide quality assured health-care services for the elderly, and you need to have sound strategies.

Since the elderly health-care scenario can turn into a costly affair, you need to make sure you’ve selected the best options that address all the aspects of elderly health.

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

A senior man hurt his back and walking with difficulty

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.

  1. 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.
  2. You can even install the video call security system that’s easily available these days for additional security.
  3. 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.
  4. Avoid using slippery wax on the floors.
  5. Ensure that your seniors wear proper fitting shoes with no, or low heels. They shouldn’t wear socks without shoes, especially on smooth floors.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove telephone or electrical cords from the busy areas of the house. Tack or tape them to the walls instead.
  8. Don’t allow your elders to stand on chairs or ladders. If they do, then they should use a step stool with handrails.
  9. Add railings fixed to the walls in the areas that are difficult to navigate.
  10. Instead of doorknobs, have levers – as they are easier to use for seniors.
  11. Make sure the house is lit well, especially areas like the porches and outer walkways.
  12. Repair uneven joints and holes on walkways. Arrange to have dead leaves removed from there too.
  13. Have an emergency escape plan ready, in-case of fire, earthquake or any other emergency.
  14. Ensure that the cell phone of seniors has a list of emergency numbers and it also has your address fed in.

A senior climbing stair at home

 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The staircase should not be open to the side opposite the wall. It should have a railing to prevent falling.
  3. Ensure that the staircase is well-lit with switches at the top and bottom.
  4. 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.

  1. Store bed covering, clothing, and other household items where they are easily accessible and within easy reach.
  2. Remove plants, small tables, boxes, and other smaller items from traffic areas.
  3. Consider installing monitors and intercom.
  4. Place a lamp and a telephone near the bed.
  5. Consider using a buddy system or a medical alert system.
  6. Seniors should avoid smoking in bed or when alone, and be very careful if they do so because of the danger of fire.
  7. Install a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in each floor. Keep a check on the battery!
  8. Ensure that the light switch is next to the room entrance so that the lights can be switched on before entering the room.
  9. If anything spills, the elderly have to ensure to wipe it off properly to prevent them from slipping.
  10. Remove ALL kinds of scatter and slippery rugs. The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests removing any rugs that aren’t secure.

A senior lady sitting safely on sofa

 

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.

  1. Dispose off any furniture that is not needed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. Ensure the furniture doesn’t move once it’s leaned on. You can place rubber tops to the legs.
  6. Add cushioning or padding to the sharp corners on cabinets, tables, vanities and other furniture.
  7. Remove any kind of raised doorway thresholds.
  8. 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.

  1. Leave a light switched on in your bathroom and hallway at night.
  2. Install grab handles in the bathroom.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Use bath benches, shower chairs, or a bath stool while bathing.
  6. 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.
  7. Turn the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to avoid scalds.
  8. Ensure to mark the cold and hot faucets properly.
  9. Ensure the shower curtain is strong enough and does not come down if one grasps or tugs it. Install a rod that’s bolted to the wall.
  10. 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.

  1. Store sharp knives or other such in a rack.
  2. Store heavy objects at waist level.
  3. Place items used often within easy reach.
  4. Store any kind of hazardous items separately from food.
  5. Ensure the work area is well-lit.
  6. Keep the floors clean and uncluttered.
  7. When seniors cook near the stove, they shouldn’t wear long and loose clothes.
  8. Use bright colors to mark the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions on appliances.
  9. If seniors use a kettle, make sure it has an automatic shut off.
  10. Check the expiry dates on food items before using them.
  11. Keep microwave dishes separate from the others so that the elders are clearly able to decipher them.
  12. Label the food items with large fonts as it becomes easier to make out what to use.
  13. Keep chemicals, cleaning supplies, and flammable liquids out of the kitchen and in a closed cabinet.
  14. 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



Show Comments

69 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Milesh

    June 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Hi, I found your article from SEO sites, but when i read this article, i seems this is very helpful for my grandparents, thanks a lot for giving awesome tips.

  2. Gabrielle Schuler

    April 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you for this article. While reading this I realized that there are many things that I can do for my parents and in-laws. The truth is that I haven’t bothered to think about it. Thank you for making me realize that fact. Next time I go to their home I am going to make sure that I take care of these things. But there is one thing I am glad that I did, installing the AlarmCare personal panic alarms in my parents home and also in my in-laws place in Toronto. Thank you once again for opening my eyes to these facts.

    • Harleena Singh

      April 27, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      Welcome to my blog Gabrielle!

      Glad you liked the post and could relate to it 🙂

      Yes, there’s really a lot we can do if we are ready for it and have a positive mind-set, isn’t it? I’m sure your efforts to make the changes around their house would be noticed and appreciated. Small things matter and they certainly make a difference. Nice to know about the panic alarms, which I think are essential, especially for parents or elders who are not staying with us.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us. 🙂

  3. John Addison

    April 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Hello Harleena
    Awesome article. Thanks for mentioned these tips that are really helpful and needful for ours elderly parents.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Keep it up

    • Harleena Singh

      April 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Hi John,

      Glad you liked these tips on home safety for seniors 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. holly

    April 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Really a fantastic article. We all need to do well and take proper care of ours elderly parents. All the guidelines and tips that you have provided are really helpful to us. As we all know now a days in this hectic life nobody have time to spend with their parents and do proper care. Its ours turn to do something for our parents. We should need to follow all the tips to take proper care of our parents
    Thanks for sharing
    Good job

    • Harleena Singh

      April 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Holly,

      Glad you liked the post, and yes, taking care of our elders is something none of us should ignore.

      I agree – with changing times and life becoming busy for us, we get less time to spend with our parents or elders, but we never have enough time, it’s something we need to ‘make’, isn’t it? Hope these tips on home safety for seniors help people realize this fact.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views.

      BTW – It would be nice if you can get a Gravatar so that we know who we are talking to – just a friendly suggestion 🙂

  5. Cararta

    March 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Living by yourself means Pay Attention to
    your Surroundings!

    So many good tips in this article, especially about keeping stray wires off the floor and out of the walking paths.

    Believe it or not my biggest hazard is Andrew my cat (see my gravatar!).

    He turns into a “trip” hazard in a second, so have developed a defense technique of sliding my feet on the floor when he is doing a “Love” attack!

    He is a large cat, so you can’t miss him, but can be a fall maker if you don’t pay attention and watch him.

    I’m lucky I guess, last bone scan shows no osteoporosis but my Dr. upped the amount of D3 to help keep my bones healthy.

    Prevention is the key… and she believes in it!

    • Harleena Singh

      March 30, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Hi Cararta – nice to have you back 🙂

      I agree with you there, living alone means you need to take care of yourself by all means, if you don’t have others to do it for you.

      Those wires can be very dangerous and sometimes we don’t realize, especially when we are walking around or speaking on the phone, and trip or fall due to them. Putting them on the wall or on the side makes sense, isn’t it?

      Lol…I can understand what you mean, and our pets sometimes like to cling to us or walk near us, so it can be dangerous at times. Sliding your feet is one way, unless you train them to stay in a certain area or not come after you, which isn’t possible after they grow up.

      Bone health is important and keeping it in good condition is vital. Bones are known to turn brittle and weak as we age, so certainly an area to take care, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us 🙂

  6. Christy Garrett

    March 30, 2014 at 6:38 am

    This post is full of memories. While my mom wasn’t a senior citizen by any means, she did suffer from a rare form of Alzheimer’s called Pick’s disease. It attacked her frontal lobe of her brain and my mom started doing some fairly wacky things as her brain started shrinking from the disease.

    She would grab at hot pans and try to pull them straight out of the oven without using an oven mitt. *buy an oven lock if they have issues with memory*. One day she left a pot of water boiling on the stove top and forgot about it. In fact, my dad said she went off and took a nap. *buy the stove top safety knobs*.

    She used to sneak out of the house and wander the streets looking for my brother, my kids, ect even though they weren’t there. * My dad had to change the locks in the house that required a key to get out*. She also loved going to get a dr pepper during the day while dad was at work, once she got to the point when she wasn’t able to drive. She tried sneaking the van out of the garage. *My dad had to hide the keys*.

    She would eat food no matter what the temperature was and it got to the point my dad had to make sure it wasn’t too hot before he allowed her to eat it.

    Once she got to far downhill, my dad had to move her to a facility that could watch and care for her 24/7. Seniors want to be independent and it drove my mom crazy when my dad had to take safety precautions to protect my mom from hurting herself. Thank you for sharing this resourceful post.

    • Harleena Singh

      March 30, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Christy,

      Nice to know that this post brought back memories to you 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your Mom, and that certainly seems like a new disease I haven’t heard of earlier. It all sounds pretty dangerous, to touch hot pans without mitts is asking for trouble, but she couldn’t help herself in such a state I guess. An oven lock seems interesting, not heard of it earlier – I think it prevents you from opening the oven while food is being cooked, or gives an alarm before you can open it perhaps.

      Stove tops safety knobs again is something we don’t get our end, but I can see their importance in such cases. Why only seniors, sometimes even people like us tend to forget we put something on the stove and take off, don’t we? So, that would surely help all of us.

      Oh dear…going out of the house could be dangerous, especially in her case. Yes, you certainly need to keep the doors locked up well and hide the keys if need be, though in such cases, its tough to leave seniors alone. Your dad certainly must’ve gone through a great deal for the care and attention your mom needed, and all that he did for her – commendable indeed.

      I guess she didn’t really know what was wrong with her, or might have been having bouts of when she felt normal and just like others, and wondered why everyone was trying to be extra cautious about her.

      It’s surely been tough on all of you, and I appreciate you for sharing all these wonderful tips with all of us, which would help so many seniors.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us 🙂




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Don’t Miss These Tips on Home Safety for Seniors

by Harleena Singh time to read: 10 min