More and more seniors are choosing to age well at home. By performing a home safety assessment, you can make sure that your home has minimal fall hazards to enhance safety and encourage independence. Overall, there are some simple modifications that can take place throughout your home with less commitment of time and money.
Here are some tips to consider:
Declutter: Look around the home for potential hazards, such as trailing extension cords, or gathered clutter and address them. Consider placing a container in each room where your loved one can put items that don't have a place, rather than leaving them on the floor.
Anti-slip Mats: Slippery floors can be a hazard, especially in the bathroom where water increases the fall risk. Add anti-slip mats on the bathroom floor, as a backing on throw rugs and in the shower or tub.
Handrails: Adding handrails and grab bars in the bathroom and in hallways can protect against falls. They also make it easier for your loved one to navigate their home independently.
Lighting: As seniors age, eyesight diminishes. Make sure there's ample lighting in the home, particularly in normally dark places like hallways, and install light switches in convenient areas or use motion sensors that turn the lights on automatically when someone enters the room. Is there significant lighting for all parts of the house? Are any additional lighting sources needed - perhaps a lamp or night light? Are all lights easily accessible? Do all switches work? Are all hallways and rooms well-lit to reduce shadows? Are light switch plates easy to find in the dark? Glow in the dark? Are lamps available by one touch or through sound?
Furniture: Sharp furniture edges increase the risk of injury when a senior falls, so place clear bumpers over the edges. Make sure all chairs are steady.
Special knobs and window pulls: Arthritis or muscle weakness can make it difficult for seniors to turn doorknobs or operate window pulls. Replace these with lever handles or chains that are easier to use.
Accessible shelving: Add shelving in pantries and closets so your loved one doesn't have to bend, reach, or climb to access stored items.
Ramps: Consider adding a ramp so your loved one doesn't have to navigate steps to enter or exist their home.
Bathroom: A bathroom has numerous potential hazards. To enhance safety, add anti-slip mats, grab bars, and anti-scalding devices to faucets.
Doors and entry ways: Are the entry ways wide enough for wheelchair access - at least 36"? Are doors and entry ways open? Can pantry's be easily accessed? If there are door know, are they easy to open?
Floors: Is there any furniture that isn't needed that could be a hazard and open up space? Do you have throw rugs / mats on the floor - are they secured with rubber matting? Are there any objects on the floor that should be moved? What about wires or cords? Are there abrupt tripping hazards between carpet to hardwood - flooring transitions?
Electrical Outlets: Are all electrical outlets functioning and easily accessible? Are all electrical outlets easy to access, preferably waste high? Are any power strips in use?
When it comes to considering if aging in place is your best option - go through the above check-list. Regardless of age, these are great tips for everyone, including child-proofing the home for grandchildren.
If you live in the Greater Birmingham or Shelby County areas, a representative from Engage Care Partners is happy to conduct an assessment of the above items, plus some to safeguard your home. To learn more, visit our website at www.engagecarepartners.com.