A senior home safety checklist is a must when you have an aging loved one. Whether they are moving in with you or will be staying at their home with a caregiver, home safety is a top priority.
When preparing for home health care, there are some steps you need to take to ensure safety. These steps may include modifying your home. You also want to ensure essential utilities are working right.
Are you a caregiver working on making your loved one’s home safe?
If so, there are several areas that you need to keep in mind.
You may choose to have a home health care provider such as Grand Stand Comfort Care. These tips can help make their job easier.
Our senior home safety checklist provides several tips for you. You want to ensure safety for seniors. They can live in the safety and comfort of their own home.
Why Might Someone Resist Making Changes?
Change can be difficult.
There are some reasons people may be resistant to making changes in their homes. The hard reality is that most homes do not get made with seniors in mind. A house bought in your thirties may take more work to get around decades later.
The most common reasons are:
They don’t want to medicalize their home.
They worry about the cost.
They don’t think they need it now or in the future.
When people add lifts, railings, and ramps to their homes, it can seem frightening. First, they may feel their house looks more like a retirement home. It can also remind them that they are getting older and cannot get around the way they used to.
But even small changes are better than nothing. And a ramp in your own home is better than a ramp at a nursing facility later.
Many people need help with the cost of some of these modifications. Luckily, some organizations can help with the expense of these changes to your home. Remember that you are also investing in your future when making these changes.
Some people may not worry about making changes because they think they don’t need them. Yet, early changes can help prevent an emergency later. Even if they are temporary changes, they can be preventative measures for later.
We have addressed why some people may resist changes. Now let’s look at our senior home safety checklist. We will go through the most common rooms and areas of concern.
Getting Around the House
One of the first areas of concern is being able to get around your house. This mobility plan includes flooring and outside your home. You want to avoid slips and falls.
The ability to get around your home should be a top priority.
Some changes that will make it easier to get around your home include:
Have a step-free entrance to your home and flat doorways
Remove tripping hazards like mats and floor rugs.
Fix all carpets to the floor and ensure they’re free from wrinkles
Install lever door handles, which are more manageable than doorknobs
Add handrails and railings where necessary.
Ensure you can reach light switches, outlets, and thermostats from a seated position.
Add nightlights to the bedroom, bathroom, and hallway to make it easier to walk around at night.
You should also consider these two factors:
If you have a multilevel home, do you have a full bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen on the first floor? This fact can limit the need to go up and down stairs.
Are doorways and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair (32-36 inches)?
Some of these changes, such as removing tripping hazards, can get done now. And while you may not need a wheelchair, it is good to get prepared.
The Common Problem of Stairs
Stairs are a common problem for many aging people.
If the home has a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen on the first floor, it can limit the need for stairs. One standard option if you need to use stairs is to install a lift.
You can take several other steps to ensure you are safe when using stairs.
Repair worn and damaged carpets.
Add non-slip strips to uncarpeted stairs.
Paint the edge of the stairs with a bright color so you can see each step.
Install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs
Add handrails on both sides of the steps.
Other than light switches and handrails, most of these changes are effortless. You can likely have them done in a day.
Sleep Safe in the Bedroom
The bedroom should be one of the safest places in the house. It is a place to rest and relax at the end of the day.
A few modifications can ensure you have a comfortable night’s sleep.
There is no clutter on the floor to prevent tripping.
A lamp, flashlight, and phone are within easy reach.
Nightlights get placed between the bedroom and bathroom.
Have a raised mattress to make it easy to get in and out of bed. You should ensure the bed is the right height.
Follow FDA safety instructions if you need to use a hospital bed with wheels. The most important thing for the bedroom is to make it a comfortable environment.
Preventing Slips in the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most common areas for injuries for older adults.
Your top priority is to prevent slips and falls in the bathroom.
Add non-slip strips to the floor, shower, and tub.
Install grab bars in the shower, tub, and toilet areas.
Replace knobs in the shower or sink with lever handles
Place a removable seat in the shower or tub.
Install raised toilet seats to make it easier to get up and down.
Anything you can do to prevent slips and falls is money well spent.
If you only have a tub, consider replacing it with a roll-in or walk-in shower. This option can be expensive, but it will also help to prevent stepping into the tub.
Getting Around the Basement
Regular movement up and down stairs can be dangerous for older adults. If you need to use the stairs, take the safety precautions mentioned above.
More precautions include:
Move laundry machines to the main floor.
Move storage either to the main floor or a garage.
The less need to visit the basement, the better. You will reduce the risk of falls on steps.
Comfort in the Living Room
The living room is one of the most used areas of the home.
One of the key goals should be comfort and regulating body temperature when in the living room.
Arrange furniture to create a clear path.
Ensure low coffee tables and small furniture are clear from walkers or crutches.
Install lock-in switches on the thermostat
Ensure light switches are within easy reach of entrances.
Appliance and telephone cords are out of the way but not under the carpet.
The furniture is firm and high, with armrests to assist with standing.
Have a cordless phone nearby to avoid rushing to answer the phone.
Install heat-control window film, thermal curtains, or solar shades.
Being Safe in the Kitchen
As people get older, the kitchen can be a difficult place to be. Some safety hazards can make preparing meals difficult for older people.
You can do a few things to keep yourself safe in the kitchen.
Ensure adequate lighting, even at night, if an older person walks in. Motion sensor lights can be helpful as well.
Keep the floor clean of any liquids, grease, or food that could cause a slip.
Food, dishes, and cooking equipment are in easy-to-reach locations.
A step stool with a handrail for higher cabinets.
Use non-skid floor wax.
Have a countertop toaster oven to avoid having to lean over the stove.
Proper lighting over the stove and counters.
Have a water-absorbent mat under the sink.
One final safety measure is to have a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure your extinguisher is in good shape and up-to-date. In case of a fire in the kitchen, you want to be able to deal with it fast.
Along with all the areas on our senior home safety checklist, there is another factor to keep in mind.
Regular cleaning is much cheaper than a major repair down the line. It can also keep you active if your mobility allows it. If you choose to have a caregiver, they can assist with regular housekeeping and cleaning.
You should also ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Also, a fire extinguisher can help avoid potential hazards.
Your home also includes lawn care and gardening. If your loved one finds these chores difficult as they age, you may look at a lawncare company or relatives to help. Their home will look nicer and prevent trouble like clogged gutters.
There are also some tasks you may need help to do yourself. Moving and installing major appliances need professional service. Professional roof repair and plumbing should also fit your home plan.
Maintenance costs need to get considered when you plan to live at home. You should consider your budget to ensure you save money for unexpected expenses.
Medical Alert Devices
One final item on our senior home safety checklist is medical alert devices.
In the past, many older adults had medical alert bracelets. These devices could detect when a person had a fall. They could contact emergency services.
These medical alert devices have increased features today. You can sync them to an app that your caregiver can track. You can also connect them to a smart speaker system such as Alexa.
Falls are a common injury for older adults. The ability to get help when you are alone is crucial. A medical alert device is easy to set up and can be a lifesaver.
Getting Help From a Caregiver
Even when you make needed modifications, you may still need help to live in comfort in your home. Some changes may not be workable due to your home’s layout or budget.
In such cases, a caregiver can help ensure you or your loved one lives at ease in their home. The home care team at Grand Strand Comfort Care can help you if you seek in-home senior care. Besides keeping their home safe, they can provide needed social interaction.
A caregiver can make suggestions to make your home safe for seniors. You will live at home with their help and follow our senior home safety checklist.