If given a choice, seniors would prefer to age in place; either staying in their current residence or choosing from a range of age-appropriate housing options within their community. According to a 2010 AARP survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents over the age of 65 said they wish to remain in their home for as long as possible, and 92 percent said they wanted to remain in their communities.
However, as we age, our senses tend to decline, making it difficult and even unsafe to live at home. Home accidents, such as falls, are a major source of injuries for seniors and can even cause death. As a result, senior home safety has become a major concern for both seniors and family members. By taking simple precautions and appropriately adapting your home you can help ensure a safe and accident-free home.
General Home Safety Tips
Many of the following home modifications are easy and inexpensive to do. More complicated home modifications, such as installing secure grab bars, may require a professional. Investing in the right home modifications can help make aging-in-place easier and safer:
The kitchen may be “the heart of the home,” but it does have its share of dangers to seniors like burns and losing their grip on utensils. Keeping kitchens well-organized and utensils in easy reach helps reduce falls and broken glass.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and change out the batteries every year on an easy to remember date, like your birthday
- Put in a fire extinguisher
- Purchase non-slip counter mats to keep bowls and plates from sliding around
- Replace kitchen rugs with non-slip versions
- Install bright lighting under dark cabinets
- Replace glass items with unbreakable versions
- Replace cloth potholders with non-flammable ones
- Keep a first aid kit in an easy to reach drawer for cuts and burns
The bathroom is full of slippery surfaces from the sink to the shower. Installing hand bars and other assistive measures helps seniors navigate the bathroom easily and avoid falls. They will also help seniors maintain a sense of independence and dignity.
- Add sturdy handrails to stairways and grab bars in the bathroom
- Install a fold-down seat or bench in the shower
- Place non-skid mats or tape in the shower or tub to prevents slips
- Adjust the water valve temperature to avoid hot water burns. It is recommended to have a professional adjust the temperature to avoid accidental damage to the heater.
Living Space Safety
In living spaces like bedrooms and living rooms, it’s easy for clutter to accumulate and not see areas that may need repair, like carpets. Loose carpeting or damaged floors increase the risk of falling and loose cords can get damaged and cause a fire hazard.
- Place rubber tips on the feet of walkers or canes
- Remove raised door thresholds or install beveled, no-step, no-trip threshold
- Install door lever handles and double-bolt locks
- Remove clutter like old magazines
- Place electrical cords out of high-traffic areas and make sure they are not underneath rugs or furniture
- Repair any loose carpet or raised areas of flooring
- If you wax your floors, use a non-skid wax
- Increase lighting in entryways, stairways, porches, and outside walkways
While this list may not cover every potential hazard, it will serve as a good starting point for senior home safety. For more senior home safety tips and information around preparing your loved one’s home for a comfortable environment, see our Senior Home Safety section on our blog.