Home safety for older adults is top of mind concern for loved ones and adult children. According to the AARP Home and Community Preference Survey, 79% of seniors (ages 50 and above) prefer to live at home as they age, but only about 34% recognize they may need to make structural changes to enable them to live safely. Aging in place at home makes many aspects of life harder. Daily tasks like housekeeping, personal care and hygiene, laundry, and meal preparation can become more challenging to the point that a senior no longer feels safe doing them and struggles to stay healthy and happy. If aging in place is the plan, this checklist covers the top ways to make home safety for older adults much easier to achieve.
Home Safety for Older Adults Checklist
Clear the way
Years of living in the same place frequently means a home becomes cluttered. When this happens, accidents are often right behind. Clutter can occur at any age but when there’s too much stuff and too little space for it, it becomes a hazard for seniors.
To begin the quest for home safety for older adults, start on the floor and remove clutter like piles of books and magazines, stacks of clothes, boxes and bins, etc. Next move up to tables, desks and counters to sort and organize the materials that have accumulated. Don’t forget to survey the kitchen and bathroom as well, making sure that floors are clear, clean, and dry, outdated items are removed, and everything is easy to reach.
When it appears that there is more than a normal amount of clutter, it may be time to consider hoarding as a problem. Since hoarding is a difficult habit to break, especially for seniors, constant decluttering efforts can become a burden on the family. Find out more about clutter, hoarding and home safety for older adults in the forbes.com article, “Aging Parents And The Clutter Issue.”
Eliminate fall hazards
Falls are among the most feared dangers for seniors so making every effort to eliminate fall hazards is a priority. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among those ages 65 and older with 36,000 fall-related deaths and 3 million emergency room visits in 2020.
Begin by removing all throw rugs as they are a common cause of trips and falls and then double-check carpets to be sure they are smooth, unwrinkled and tightly secured to the floor, with special attention to carpeting on stairways. If the home has wood or other flooring make sure it is undamaged and repair or replace any that could be a problem.
Other fall hazards include furniture that impedes movement. Home safety for older adults may require rearranging furniture as well as removing pieces to free up more space. The object is to create a comfortable grouping but one that is accessible for someone who has mobility problems and/or uses a walker or cane. Also, check for furniture sturdiness and ease of use and remove pieces that are no longer safe. Be sure to check furniture in every room so home safety for older adults isn’t just in the living room, but throughout the house. For more tips on furniture check out the model55.com article, “Furnishing a Senior Living Apartment – What to Consider.”
Once the easy changes have occurred consider structural changes to enhance home safety for older adults. Small changes might include installing grab bars, shower chairs, hand-held shower heads, raised toilets, and non-slip flooring in bathrooms. In kitchens, install sliding drawers in cabinets, move microwaves to counter level, and in both kitchen and bath replace knob faucets with lever-handle versions. Throughout the home, add additional lighting where needed, especially in halls and areas with little natural light, and check all handrails to be sure they are secure.
More expensive changes that aid home safety for older adults include ramps over entry steps, stairway lifts, walk-in showers, widened doorways, and emergency alert systems, as well as automatic lighting outdoors. For those with basement laundry rooms, moving appliances to the ground level is one more way to ensure home safety for older adults by eliminating the need to use stairs. The consumeraffairs.com article, “The Costs of Aging in Place Remodeling,” takes an in-depth look at the possibilities and the costs.
Home safety for older adults all-in-one package
For many families, home safety for older adults is an ongoing pursuit, unless they choose senior living instead. Modern senior living communities like Ganton’s Countryside are built from the ground up for safety and accessibility and offer around-the-clock staffing, chef-prepared meals, lovely private apartments, tons of activities and events, and a truly beautiful place to call home.
For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.