Canada’s senior population is projected to reach 9.4 million by 2030. Most of these older persons are opting to age in the comfort of their own homes, not care facilities. However, aging at home comes with risks that must be addressed.
In fact, in Alberta, an older adult is getting hospitalized every 5 hours because of a fall. By making safe home modifications, older adults can maintain their independence and comfort. Consider getting in touch with homemaker services that will help you with home modification safety tips, based on a loved one’s physical health and your homemaking needs.
Some of the home modifications that you can do include improved lighting in places like the kitchen, to light blindspots like under the sink. You can also install sturdy handrails, bright motion sensor lights, and place lamps and remotes within reach. Here is a home safety checklist for seniors to help you determine whether your home is safe from hazards.
This article provides a guide on how to transform your home into a safe haven due to safety concerns for elderly persons.
Here is a checklist-table for aging in place: This will be given in the intro section, as a clickable link with an Anchor text.
|Install sturdy handrails
|Ensure railings are securely fastened and can bear full weight.
|Adequate lighting inside and outside entrances. Light switches at top and bottom of stairs.
|Remove doorway lips
|Address lips over 1⁄4 inches to aid mobility aids. Consider portable ramps.
|Use non-slip mats
|Place near appliances, sinks, and prep areas.
|Opt for open shelving
|Maximizes visibility and access to frequently used items.
|Have a sturdy step stool
|Ensure it has safety bars for hard-to-reach areas.
|Install mirrors for visibility
|Helps see around corners and eliminates blind spots.
|Install multiple grab bars
|Around toilets, tubs, and showers for safety on slippery surfaces.
|Use anti-slip strips and mats
|In bathing areas and tubs.
|Consider shower benches and walk-in bathtubs
|For step-free entry and safer bathing.
|Install bright lighting
|Nightlights or supplemental lighting for visibility.
|Ensure wide pathways
|At least 32 inches wide for walkers and wheelchairs.
|Secure loose wires
|Keep out of walkways to prevent tripping.
|Place lamps and remotes within reach
|For easy access with limited mobility.
|Flooring & Lighting
|Remove loose carpeting
|Opt for even, non-slip flooring surfaces.
|Increase light bulb wattage
|For supplemented brightness in the home.
|Install three-way light switches
|At both the top and bottom of stairs for adequate illumination.
|Install bright motion sensor lights
|At all exterior doorways and transition areas.
|Maintain flat surfaces year-round
|Use salt or sand to reduce ice and snow buildup.
|Secure entrances and exits
|Prune overhanging branches and widen driveways if necessary.
|Store and use ergonomic snow removal equipment
|To avoid heavy lifting and bending.
|Schedule regular yard work assistance
|Hire professional services or seek help from family and community.
|Indoor Hazards Beyond Basics
|Declutter and secure hazards
|Remove unused furniture, secure wires, and arrange spaces conveniently.
|Smart Home Technology
|Install security and monitoring systems
|Smart video doorbells, sensors, and voice assistants for enhanced safety and convenience.
|Automate health management and medication routines
|Use smart pill dispensers and sensor-equipped medication bottles.
Conducting a Room-by-Room Safety Assessment
As we age, our homes should be places where we feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, studies indicate that 60% of falls happen in our homes. It is, therefore, important that we do our best to make our homes safe and comfortable for our aging adults.
The first step to doing that is to conduct a thorough walkthrough of your home. Here are some priority areas to assess to prevent falls and other potential hazards:
Be sure to pay close attention when assessing the entryway areas for safety modifications. Install sturdy handrails with returns on both sides of stairways and ensure they’re securely fastened to the walls.
You should be able to bear full weight on railings without leaving any looseness. Consider position railings 32-36 inches above the stairs. You must also ensure that there’s adequate lighting both inside and outside entrances, and remove unnecessary objects. Remember to have light switches at the top and bottom of stairwells for visibility navigating steps.
Remove any doorway lips or edges over 1⁄4 inches that can trip mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers for the elderly or crippled. Consider installing portable ramps as well if thresholds cannot be easily modified. There’s also a possibility of fire hazards happening. As such, it would be safe to have a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, and emergency phone numbers for emergency assistance.
The kitchen must have proper lighting especially when the elderly person is cooking. Consider increasing the light wattage to allowable levels. There are a lot of options in the market for under-counter lighting.
Remember to create easy access to frequently used items to prevent climbing up a step stool. Heavy items can be kept on the counter or the wall for hanging pans and pots. Also, use mats with slip-resistant materials on the floor near appliances and sink areas. Add mirrors or angled security mirrors to see around corners, eliminating blind spots with proper lighting.
Multiple well-secured grab bars should be installed around toilets, tubs, and showers. These are important when maneuvering on slippery bathroom surfaces to prevent falls. Consider checking a medical supply store or browsing online for options that will help you with safety modifications.
Additionally, you can use adhesive anti-slip strips in bathing areas along with secured non-slip tub mats for safety. Assess the need for shower benches and walk-in or barrier-free bathtubs with seats and doors. They help to enable step-free entry. Night lights or supplemental strip lighting are necessary. They serve to brighten pathways and reduce fall risks in dim bathroom lighting.
Pathways between bedroom furniture should measure at least 32 inches wide. This helps to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. Consider rearranging furniture like medicine cabinets to widen navigation lanes in the bedroom.
Check to ensure that the beds are at a safe level for older adults. The bed height is too low if a family member’s knees are above their hips while sitting. You can also place bed risers under the bed legs for added height. Also, the bed’s level is too high if a loved one’s legs are not touching the floor when seated on the edge of the bed. To lower the bed’s height, you can use a lower profile mattress or remove the bed frame.
Place bedside lamps close enough to access with limited mobility at night. Cell phones and remotes should also be placed within the arm’s reach. This will help to ensure the elderly person can easily reach someone in case of an emergency.
5. Living Area
This is a space in the home where people spend most of their time during the day. Thus, it’s important that you arrange the furniture to keep a clear walkway. You must also pay close attention to coffee tables and any other low-level tables in the home that can be a tripping hazard. You can also remove the coffee tables and replace them with tables that can be placed adjacent to the most frequently used couches.
If you have a landline phone, place it close to the sitting area for easier answering of calls. If you have a cordless phone, consider having a charging station nearby to keep devices full of power.
Pets make great companions. However, they can be a trip hazard as anyone can trip over them and fall. So you must ensure that you train them and make sure everyone knows their habits to avoid being caught off guard.
6. Dining Room
After a few years, it’s important to evaluate your dining set furniture to ensure that they’re still strong and safe. Check to see if the chairs have wobbly arms or legs, and consider changing them. Check to also determine whether the furniture is of the proper height for the older family members in the house.
If the repairs are necessary, find a furniture repair service or consider a new dining set.
7. Flooring and Lighting
Remove loose carpeting and area rugs in the home that can increase the risk of accidents like slips and falls. Go for even, non-slip flooring surfaces, avoiding glossy materials that reflect light appearing wet.
Increase wattage of overhead light bulbs for supplemented brightness. Ensure that there’s proper lighting in stairways and passages with three-way light switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
Prioritizing Fall Prevention
About 20-30% of seniors over 65 years suffer a debilitating fall each year in Canada. Thus, it’s important to prevent tumbles when aging to avoid being part of the statistics. Common culprits of such accidents include poor lighting, unstable furniture, obstructed walkways, and throw rugs.
Medical alert devices, especially those with automatic fall detection, are useful safeguards for older adults living alone. Medical alert devices like a wearable help button can help in case of an emergency like when falls happen. The wearer can simply push the button to connect with a 24/7 monitoring center for emergency assistance.
A smart wristband can also provide fall detection alerts and should be worn at all times due to potential hazards. For aging adults with mobility limitations, installing stair lifts, grab bars, and ramps can help to minimize fall risks.
Focusing on Outdoor Safety
Assessing indoor hazards is crucial for home safety for seniors, as discussed earlier. But evaluating the external environment for fall risks, for instance, is equally important for home safety. Here’s how to ensure your home security for those around you:
Ensuring adequate outdoor lighting: Install bright motion sensor lights at all exterior doorways and transition areas. This ensures automatic illumination of entrance areas when approaching after dark. Solar-powered pathway lighting along walkways and steps can complement stair railings. This is essential for support when navigating changes in elevation.
Maintaining flat surfaces year-round: Use salt, ice melt products, or sand generously to reduce slippery ice and snow buildup on sidewalks. This should apply to the steps and ramps during Calgary winters. Keep front steps and walkways always cleared of snow and debris. Immediately address raised paving stones or cracks in sidewalks that can trip those with shuffling gaits.
Securing entrances and exits: Prune overhanging tree branches above doorways, where falling debris can obstruct safe passageways. Widen the driveway if necessary to comfortably accommodate ambulances in emergency cases. Routine driveway and walkway maintenance helps to fill cracks and holes preventing tipping hazards.
Storing and using snow removal equipment: To avoid heavy lifting and repetitive bending, use an ergonomic snow pusher to clear walkways. Keep salt buckets, snow blowers and electric snow shovels in easily accessible exterior sheds. This will ensure that the equipment is on hand when needed without having to haul it from garage interiors. Set up garden hoses for convenience washing outdoor areas.
Scheduling regular yard work assistance: Consider hiring a professional lawn care or snow removal service. This will help you to avoid strenuous yard maintenance tasks, especially if you’re aging in place. Most insurers provide snow removal allowances. Alternatively, you can ask family members or neighbors for assistance with seasonal yard needs. You can also explore volunteer programs through local churches or nonprofits matching helpers.
Addressing Indoor Hazards Beyond the Basics
Taking stock of possible stumbling blocks inside an aging parent’s home is more than removing loose rugs and bath mats. It also involves decluttering, securing wires and cables, ensuring proper lighting, and arranging well-trafficked spaces.
Declutter: Remove unused furniture from pathways. This will allow you to organize essential items in easy-to-reach places and discard unused paper products.
Secure hazards: Tape down cords and cables out of walkways. Mount TVs to walls to prevent falling and install drawer locks to prevent openings.
Rearrange wisely: Position beds, couches, coffee tables and chairs for ample walking room. Have grab bars, handrails, and reachers at an arm’s distance.
Incorporating Smart Home Technology
Innovative sensors and AI-powered supports can bolster home safety for the elderly person and allow self-sufficiency. Here’s how to incorporate smart home technology like the monitoring system for home security:
Embracing Security and Monitoring Systems: It’s crucial that you install smart video doorbells with mobile app connectivity. This helps to enable screening and remotely admitting visitors from cell phones or tablets.
Automating Health Management and Medication Routines: Voice assistant devices help to foster independence by setting medication and appointment reminders. They also serve to remind you to refill prescriptions for a medical emergency and activate phone calls.
Supporting Daily Functioning with Voice Assistants: Voice assistant platforms help to compensate for physical or cognitive limitations. They do this by controlling TVs, appliances, security systems, and lights through verbal commands.
Choosing Cost-Effective Systems: Go for platforms integrated with products that you already own like cell phones and smart speakers. Scalable DIY systems provide affordability through self-installation.
|Smart Home Device
|Benefits for Seniors
|Smart Video Doorbell
|Two-way audio communication, motion detection, live video streaming
|Screen visitors without opening the door, enhance security, monitor home entrance remotely
|$100 – $250
|Voice or app control, customizable settings, energy-efficient LED bulbs
|Reduce fall risk, easy operation, save on energy bills
|$20 – $100 per bulb
|Remote temperature control, learns temperature preferences, energy usage reports
|Maintain comfortable environment, easy adjustment, monitor and reduce energy costs
|$150 – $300
|Medical Alert System
|Fall detection, emergency call button, GPS tracking in some models
|Quick assistance in emergencies, peace of mind, safety assurance when alone
|$30 – $90 monthly subscription
|Keyless entry, remote locking/unlocking, customizable access codes
|No need to manage keys, allow caregiver access, enhance home security
|$100 – $250
|Voice Assistant Device
|Voice command operation, integrates with other smart devices, reminders and alerts setup
|Hands-free control, set reminders, easy access to information and entertainment
|$50 – $200
Safety in the home of an older person is crucial. Thus, it’s important to prepare the home for this family member for improved home safety. If you find it difficult to do the home modifications, consider getting a specialist’s knowledge. Professionals have the training to provide you with the necessary knowledge.
This is done through a home safety evaluation to determine the necessary home security systems. They also ensure that there’s someone at hand 24/7 to monitor the older person’s safety and well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
Immediate dangers, such as tripping on loose carpets and slippery bathroom surfaces, are significant. Hazards requiring substantial safety modifications include a lack of grab bars and wheelchair ramps for entryways.
Smart home sensors connected to emergency response systems can detect falls and immediately summon help. Smart devices give medication reminders while automatic pill dispensers manage medications. There are also video doorbells with remote access that allow monitoring of visitors.
Doorways and hallways should be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs. Bathrooms must have ample clear floor spaces around toilets and accessible showers with grab bars and seats. Controls and switches must be within reach ranges.