The home is a sanctuary—but when clutter fills the rooms and glass table corners dangerously project outward, the home can be dangerous for seniors. The homes of older people require modifications to ensure they are safe and habitable.
As people grow older, they become increasingly susceptible to falls and injuries. In fact, every year, at least one in three seniors over the age of 65 experiences a fall. As each decade passes, the elderly are at a greater risk for injuries due to falls. Hospitalizations and even disablement can potentially result when seniors are injured.
Prevent fall-related injuries in aging loved ones by addressing common hazards in the home, perils that seem harmless to younger people but pose as a threat to individuals with physical weakness or cognitive impairment. You can also help protect your senior loved ones in their homes with professional home care services. Caregivers from home care agencies can help prevent falls and ensure the home is safe.
The following home safety checklist for seniors offers a wealth of ways to safeguard the home environment.
1. Bedroom Safety
Seniors spend copious amounts of time in the bedroom, making this room the second most frequent place older people experience fall-related injuries. Decorative embellishments, like rugs, serve as major tripping hazards. All rugs should be eliminated from the bedroom—and, ideally, from the entire house.
In addition to rugs, clutter is a substantial tripping hazard. The more surplus furniture, random objects and unnecessary clothing inhabit a space, the greater the chances a senior will stumble, trip or fall. The accumulation of clutter in the bedroom provides a maze-like environment the senior has to figure out.
Extension cords and cords from phone chargers, computers and other electrical gadgets should run behind furniture—not across the carpet—to prevent tripping. Rearrange furniture, if necessary, to accommodate inconspicuous cord placement. Untangle cords and remove loose ones for added safety.
Ensure the bed is not too high. If the senior’s feet dangle while she sits on the bed, lower the bed.
Decrease chances of falling from the bed by placing a step at the foot of the bed. This simple addition reduces the distance from the bed to the floor.
Overall, keep bedroom disorder to a minimum, and older relatives will have an easy path to their favorite armchair and bed.
2. Bathroom Safety
Over half of all senior falls occur in bathrooms. Smooth tiles along the floor combined with condensation increase the chances for slips and falls. Reduce the risk for falls by installing grab bars near the toilet and inside the shower. Add rubber bath mats inside the tub to prevent slips.
Exiting and entering the tub can be painstakingly difficult for seniors who are frail or experience issues with balance. Ease any hesitancy by fitting the bath with a tub transfer bench. This modest addition provides seniors with convenience and safety. Walk-in tubs offer even greater support to older individuals.
3. Safe Illumination
Adequate lighting is essential, especially at night. Older people are likely to wake up in the wee hours, making the darkness a stealthy cover for tripping hazards. Ensure safety at night by installing remote controlled or automated night lights. Large lamps on either side of the bed increase nighttime visibility.
Contemporary light switches may feature glow in the dark capabilities, helping seniors readily find the switches. Light switches should also be available at the tops and bottoms of stairs. Bright bulbs, like fluorescent bulbs, are inexpensive and provide improved lighting to help when vision is poor.
4. Kitchen Safety
Spending time in the kitchen is routine for many seniors. Ensure the kitchen floor is less of a slip hazard by adding rubber floor mats, especially around the oven. A frequently used step stool should feature bars that help maintain balance. Seniors should never substitute chairs for step stools.
Seniors who reach for commonly used items on high shelves put themselves in risky situations. Rather, place frequently used items on the countertop or on lower shelves that are approximately waist level. Wall hooks at shoulder height are perfect for hanging large pots and pans—and reducing risk for injury.
5. Living and Family Room Safety
Sharply edged furniture and glass tabletops pose as inherent dangers for seniors, especially if they are prone to falls. Replace hazardous furniture pieces with safer ones, like those with rounded edges or soft surfaces. Remove unstable furniture and, generally, all inessential items that litter the living room space.
Evaluate the carpets. Over time, carpet fibers undergo wear and tear. Fibers develop loops that can catch an older person’s toes, leading to a nasty fall. Uneven carpet surfaces are an equal danger. Replace worn carpeting. Encourage seniors to wear shoes at home rather than go barefoot or wear slippers.
Assistance should be readily accessible. Help can be quickly called by wearing an alarm; alternately, every senior’s home should feature a boldly lettered list of emergency numbers. Every level of the home should be fitted with a functional phone in case the senior falls and is unable to get up.
Inspecting an aging loved one’s home for gaping holes in safety can help to transform it into a secure environment. Loved ones who are unable or struggle to suitably evaluate a senior’s home can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for our professional fall prevention assessment.
Your loved one’s physical safety is of prime importance to Assisting Hands Home Care caregivers. Professional home care providers inspect the home for fall hazards and make suitable recommendations. Families who need more than a fall prevention assessment will find ample support from the Assisting Hands Home Care team of reliable, in-home caregivers.
Assisting Hands Home Care caregivers provide seniors with compassionate home care. Elder care services include help with the activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, meal preparation and transportation, among a host of other comprehensive, non-medical services. Caregivers are licensed and bonded to ensure families have maximum peace of mind.