Having an elderly home safety checklist is perfect way to assess living spaces for seniors and it can determine what type of potential hazards that there can be. Injuries and falls can happen in any room. The most common places are stairs and bathrooms, but there can be hazards in every room. It is vital that you make a list of all potential safety concerns and then take preventative measures to address them all.
Home Safety Statistics
Based on data from the CPSC, there are 1.5 million seniors that are 65 years of age or older that are treated for injuries related to consumer products each year in an emergency room. Even though injuries around and in the home can happen in various ways, falls are often the biggest cause.
The information below can shed a bit of light on just how prone to injury and falls that a senior can be in their home:
- 60% of deaths associated to falls happen to those who are 75 years of age or older.
- Incidence of falls will rise as every decade of living passes.
- 1 in 3 people who are 65 years of age or older in the U.S. will experience a fall every year.
- More than 2 million fall injuries every year are a product of flooring materials and floors.
- Over 8 million emergency room visits are the result of falls, which is the leading cause for the visit.
Elderly Home Safety Checklist
There are categories of items you should check if you’re visiting your parent or other elderly loved one. This checklist goes over the whole home including fall prevention steps. Each section deals with different issues or areas of the home. It is geared to help leave the home much safer for seniors to live.
Preparing for Emergency Situations
If you just wait until there is an emergency, then it will be too late. It’s vital that you prepare in advance and take all the preventative measures needed but also have a plan that is in place if you have to exit the house quickly or if you have to get help.
Fire safety is going to be a big part for any home safety checklist. Seniors will be at a higher risk than others when it comes to a residential fire. The elderly are actually 3 times more likely to die during a residential fire than someone who is younger. Taking time to have the house assessed is needed to learn smoke alarm needs. Once the assessment has been done, you are going to know where a smoke alarm needs to go and what rooms that you need to place a smoke alarm in. Taking time to educate yourself on fire safety can possibly save your life.
Do you have safe rooms in your home?
A very common misconception is that senior injuries inside of the home are normally related to a fall in the bathroom or on the stairs. Dangers and injuries in the home are not just limited to falling, but it can happen many ways. Home safety can be at risk in almost every room of any house. Any senior safety checklist needs to include every part of the house.
The bathroom is going to be a common area for an injury to happen in the home of a senior. Not only can an injury happen within a shower, but the shower can cause the floor to get wet which creates a dangerous and unsafe environment. These are a few things that need to be tended to within a bathroom:
- A shower or bath seat needs to be accessible.
- Outlets should protect from electric shock
- Ventilation system and a supplemental, safe heat source
- Door needs to open outwards
- Lighting needs to be glare free, sufficient and even. The light switch needs to be near the door.
- Flooring should be matte finished, textured tile, or covered with a low pile commercial carpet.
- Towel bars need to be installed correctly and sturdy
- If the shower has doors, they need to be made of plastic or safety glass
- Shower or tub needs to be equipped with a non-slip surface
Descending or climbing the stairs can be dangerous even for a middle aged, healthy adult. It isn’t really hard to understand why many elderlies suffer from an injury because of shoddy, unsafe stairs. The stairs need to be part of a senior home safety checklist. Below are some precautions that can be done to ensure that the stairs are as safe as possible:
- Handrails: the stairs need to have a sturdy, functional handrail. Circular rails are the best because they are easier to grip completely when compared to other rails.
- Placement: there are times people are not aware of the stairs in a poorly lit area or in parts of the home where the colors and patterns run into each other.
- Maintenance: if the tread or carpet is worn, it can be dangerous and cause people to fall. Replace the carpet or worn tread on the stairs right away.
- Stair lighting: the stairs in your home need to have plenty of lighting around them so that each step can be clearly seen.
- Stairs need to be clear: this may sound obvious, but there are times that people will leave things on the stairs all the time such as shoes, books and papers.
- Construction of the stairs: The stairs need to be evenly built. If they are not dimensionally uniform, it can increase the risk of tripping and falling.
When it comes to a safety checklist, your kitchen may be the last place that you think to address. Truth is that most accidents happen in the kitchen, so it is important to check this list when you are taking precautions:
- Sturdy step stool that has a handrail needs to be on hand for getting to top shelves or high cabinets to get items.
- All countertop appliances like coffeemakers, toasters, etc. need to be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter.
- All appliances that are electrical as well as cords need to be as far from the sink as possible and away from anywhere where there may be water. The cords need to be kept from any surface that may be hot.
- Never leave the kitchen when you are cooking. Anything that is being cooked on a stove will always need to be supervised.
- Exhaust and ventilation in the kitchen are important. Without the right ventilation, indoor air pollutants and carbon monoxide can accumulate and make the air unsafe.
- The stove area needs to be clutter free and clean. Curtains, potholders, towels and grease are examples of stuff that can catch on fire easily.
- The kitchen needs to have a fire extinguisher that is less than 10 years old and verified as in working order.
Even if safety precautions are taken in the bedroom, it is important that you place it on the safety checklist for the elderly. Accidents and injuries can happen in any room and a bedroom isn’t any different than others. There are steps that you can do to make sure that the bedroom is safe:
- Hot plates, candles, ash trays, or other fire hazards need to be kept away from bedding, beds, furniture, and curtains.
- Have a sturdy chair that has arms in the bedroom so that you can sit and dress if needed.
- Flashlight or lamp needs to be kept within reach of the bed in case you have to get up in the middle of the night.
- Cords are a hazard. If there is a phone in your room that isn’t in reach of the bed, consider moving it closer.
- The path to your room nearest to the bathroom needs to have enough light that you can see if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
- Ensure that there is an easy to reach light that you can get to from the bed.
Living Room Safety
A living room will normally have a TV with cords, chairs, tables, telephones and other things that can cause someone to get injured. You could also have a fireplace in the room which is a safety concern. Below are a few things that need to be part of your checklist when it comes to your living room:
- Remove any furniture that feels wobbly or loose as it could be a safety hazard.
- Do not run any cords under rugs and keep pathways clear of wires that may cause a person to trip.
- Remove foot rests, low coffee tables, or anything else that is low to the ground and blocks a clear path through the room.
- Check all carpet and rugs to ensure that they are level with the ground. If either surfaces bunch up they may cause a person to trip and then fall.
- If you have a fireplace and a chimney, ensure that it is cleaned before it is used. Clogged chimneys can cause smoke and poisonous fumes to enter into your home.
Checklist For Fall Prevention
Keeping seniors safe in their homes takes some effort in identifying problem areas. Most of the issues that cause seniors to fall in their homes are issues with problems with flooring, stairs, and slippery surfaces. These issues can be minimized by keeping an eye on the condition of the home.
- Make sure hallways and paths are in good repair.
- Ensure all unlevel areas and stairs have handrails.
- Install high visibility colors on stairs.
- Showers and bathtubs must have non-skid materials.
- Showers and bathtubs must have grab bars.
- Purchase and put in place bathroom safety equipment.
- Use non-skid layers under rugs in the home to prevent slips.
- Secure rugs to floor or remove them to prevent tripping.
- Install better lighting in home and nightlights.
- Get a home evaluation done for seniors in physical therapy.
- Use walkers and canes to help steady weakness or balance problems.
Home safety is something that needs to be taken seriously for seniors. When a person ages, they can become less physically capable as they were when younger and much more vulnerable to an injury in the home. Accidents can happen anywhere in the home, so a safety checklist for the home is very much recommended.
SLS Communities offers home care services to help watch for an eliminate safety and health challenges as they come along. We also offer senior care at our communities for independent living, assisted living, and even memory care. No matter what level of senior care you’re looking for SLS Communities can help you find the care solutions you’re seeking. Call 480-348-0300 for more information about our home care services in Arizona.