Home Safety Tips for Seniors

We should feel safest and most comfortable in our own homes. Sadly, this is not the case for some older adults. Their homes may not be as safe as they should be. Therefore, we recommend a room-by-room assessment to determine what changes can be made to improve the safety of your home or the home of an elderly loved one.

Our suggestions:

Entrances:

  • In order to prevent falls you should have at least one step-free entrance into the home.
  • Another way to prevent slipping and falling is to place a secure mat or non-slip material just inside the door
  • Install secure locks on exterior doors that can’t accidentally lock you in or out of the home.
  • Doors should have have lever-style handles, which are easier to use than doorknobs.
  • Ensure that there is a bench or a table inside and outside of the door for placing items, in order to avoid juggling packages while unlocking the door.
  • Research and consider buying an intercom system and/or a remote keyless entry for additional safety.

Kitchen:

  • Proper lighting is essential. Ensure that all work areas (stove, countertops, and sink) are well lit.
  • Store the most used items in locations that are easy to reach.
  • Use easy-to-grasp D-shaped handles rather than knobs on cabinets and drawers.
  • Consider installing a lowered countertop that would allow a senior to work from a seated position or a wheelchair.
  • Place the stovetop controls near the front so the cook does not have to reach over flames or hot pots.
  • Ensure that the controls for the stovetop are easy to see.
  • Use a lever-, touch-, or sensor-style faucet rather than one with turn-style knobs or handles.
  • The sink faucet should be pressure-balanced, temperature-regulated and kept at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place a fire extinguisher within reach of the oven or stove.

Living Room and Bedroom:

  • Maintain wide, uncluttered pathways so that there is sufficient space for a wheelchair or a walker.
  • Firmly secure all area rugs to the floor or remove them altogether.
  • Move all electrical cords against the wall and away from any walking areas.
  • Place the bed in a way that allows easy access to the bathroom.
  • Install interior lights and adjustable rods and shelves in the closets.

Bathroom:

  • Set the temperature of the water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Install bathtub and shower faucets with easy-to-use lever handles rather than knob or turn handles.
  • Insulate any exposed pipes beneath the sink to protect against touching a hot pipe.
  • Install a hand-held or adjustable shower head in the shower.
  • The shower should contain permanent or removable seating in order to bathe while seated.
  • Install grab bars in and around the tub/shower, and beside the toilet and sink.
  • The bathtub and/or shower floor should have a nonskid mat or nonslip strips.
  • The toilet should be a higher, comfort-height model.

Steps and Stairways:

  • Safe and secure handrails should be on both sides of the stairs and placed at a user-appropriate height and properly secured to the walls.
  • Stairway lights can be tuned on and off at both the top and the bottom of the stairs.
  • Exterior and stair treads need to be in good condition with no weak or missing steps, loose bricks, raised nail heads, open backs, etc.
  • Uncarpeted steps should feature a nonslip surface such as adhesive strips.
  • Plug automatic night-lights into outlets near steps and staircases.
  • All steps should be clear of clutter.

Laundry Room:

  • The main floor is the safest location for the laundry room. Consider moving them if the washer and dryer are located upstairs or downstairs.
  • Ensure there is sufficient space to maneuver a wheelchair and/or a walker around the washer and dryer.
  • Install a fold-down ironing board, with plenty of shelf space nearby in order to provide easy access to the iron and other laundry supplies.

Elsewhere and Throughout the House:

  • In each room of the house, make sure there is sufficient and easy-to-use lighting. Pay particular attention to the lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs, hallways, and in and between the bedroom and bathroom where nighttime trips may occur.
  • Lightbulbs should be rated for the fixtures they are in and are of the highest allowed wattage.
  • Install rocker-style light switches between 36” and 44” from the floor. Electrical outlets should be placed 18” to 24” from the floor.
  • Purchase touch control lamps and devices that automatically turn lights off and on at set times.
  • Make sure there is a telephone available in or near multiple rooms (including the bedroom and bathroom).
  • Keep flashlights in multiple rooms in case of power failure.