CareAcademy Blog

How to Make Your Home Safer for Seniors

If you need to make a place safer for seniors that you care for, follow these general guidelines for safety precautions and eliminating risks.

Potential Risks for Seniors in the Bathroom

The bathroom is the most hazardous room in the home for falls!  Most bathrooms tend to have:
  • Wet & slippery tub surface
  • Lack of support handles/grab bars in the tub or near the toilet
  • Slippery towels or rugs on floor
  • A low toilet, which makes it difficult for an older person to sit down and get up

Making the Bathroom Safer for Seniors:

  • Ensure that the toilet is at a proper height. When an older adult is sitting on toilet, it should feel comfortable. They may need a toilet riser placed if the toilet is too low.
  • Grab bars may need to be placed for assistance into/out of the tub and when using the toilet.
  • Use non-slip mats, and decals in the shower to prevent falls.
  • A shower chair and transfer bench may be really beneficial.
  • Encourage elders not to hurry to the bathroom, especially at night, as this can increase the chances of a fall. For men who urinate frequently at night, consider offering a urinal near the bedside to avoid frequent bathroom trips.
  • Encourage the use of a night light. Ensure proper lighting between the bedroom and bathroom.

Potential Risks for Seniors in the Kitchen

Notice the following risky areas that are also common in many kitchens. Remember – we are talking about someone who may be a little off balance to begin with. But it’s simple to make any kitchen safer for seniors. Look for:
  • Shelving that is too high to reach or too low to bend over
  • Slippery floors
  • Unstable stools/chairs
  • Unsecured rugs

Making the Kitchen Safer for Seniors:

  • If mats are used in the kitchen, ensure that they are non-slip
  • Keep mops, brooms, sponges, or other cleanup tools within reach to wipe messes, so no unnecessary reaching has to take place and so any wet areas can be cleaned up quickly
  • Never use chairs with wheels in the kitchen. And always ensure the chairs have arms.
  • Make sure the kitchen table and chairs are sturdy, stable, and not too high or low.
  • Make sure shelves are between shoulder and waist height.
  • Encourage elders to ask for help when things are out of reach.

Common Hazards for Seniors in the Bedroom

Even bedrooms can have some problem areas. For example:
  • Poor lighting
  • Clutter
  • High bed
  • Walking aids, telephone or other necessary items (eg. glasses) that are out-of-reach

Making the Bedroom Safer for Senior Citizens:

In any bedroom, check a few simple things to make sure that the room is safe for adults of all ages.
  • Make sure no loose cords are laying across the floor.
  • Keep the area neat and free from clothes on the floor.
  • Encourage the use of night lights. Lighting is very important all over the house. (Imagine a sleepy older adult walking around in the middle of the night – they are more likely to fall if they can’t see well.)
  • Check for proper bed height. When sitting on the edge of the bed, both feet should be on the floor.
  • Ensure the nightstand is within arm’s reach.
  • Ensure walking aids such as canes and walkers are within reach of the bed.
  • Make sure that items the person commonly uses (the phone, eyeglasses, remote control) are placed within their reach when you leave.

Safety Risks for Seniors in a House’s Hallway

In a hallway, issues that can lead to falls include:
  • Poor lighting
  • Clutter
  • Cords that run across the floor
  • Carpet edges, throws, or rugs that are not secured to the floor
  • Obstacles such as lamps or furniture

Making the Hallway Safer for Elderly Adults:

  • Ensure lighting is proper and high wattage.
  • Rearrange any furniture so that it is not in the walking path for an elder.
  • Make sure no loose cords are laying across the floor
  • Secure throw rugs or carpets, either by nailing them down or using non-slip backing underneath the rug.
  • Consider installing handrails for balancing
 

Eldercare professionals are responsible for keeping environments safer for seniors. Find out more with online eldercare classes from CareAcademy.

 

Dr. Reddy is a specialist in Internal Medicine & Geriatric Medicine. She holds appointments at Harvard Medical School & Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, MA. She has seen the struggles that families and caregivers go through when caring for adults. Through CareAcademy, she intends to improve people's lives. Dr. Reddy's research is published as journal articles and book chapters. She has also authored a book for family caregivers.

Madhuri ReddyHow to Make Your Home Safer for Seniors

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