These days it’s becoming easier for people over 65 to “age in place” in their own homes. A long list of technologies, new products, and advancements in healthcare are enabling seniors to stay independent and live in a place where they feel comfortable and have the freedom to live their lifestyle of choice. 

Still, safety remains a priority. Most houses have common hazards that can lead to slips, falls, burns, or other accidents. Here’s a room-by-room overview of how to safety-proof a home for seniors. 

Bathrooms

Wet tile floors are one of the most dangerous spots in a home. More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room each year from fall-related injuries. You can help the navigate any bathroom confidently and securely by installing grab bars by the toilet, in the shower/bath, and next to the sink. 

You can also modify tubs and showers with walk-in features, eliminating the need to step over slippery steps or barriers. Add slip-resistant, adhesive tape to the floor of the shower or tub. Place a medical-quality chair or bench in the shower to provide additional support while bathing. 

If your loved one needs easier access to the sink or toilet, replace them with height-adjusted equipment. By lowering a sink, removing the area below the sink, or raising the height of the toilet, you make navigating the bathroom safer and easier.

Kitchen

Kitchens have a whole different set of hazards including burns, head bumps, cuts, poisoning, and other cooking-related injuries. A fire extinguisher is a must-have and should be readily accessible, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

If your kitchen has a tile floor, consider installing slip-resistant vinyl, which doesn’t get as slippery when wet. If that’s not an option, place non-slip tape or grip mats, particularly around areas that can get wet such as by the sink or refrigerator. 

Electric appliances are safer than gas ones. Replace gas appliances if possible. Encourage family members to use microwaves for cooking whenever possible, as they are less likely to cause burns or other accidents and can sit at any height for easy use. 

Stairs and Steps

Stairs are a major fall risk, especially for people who aren’t as steady on their feet as they used to be. Thousands of people are installing stairlifts, which safely and securely transport a person up and down stairs. Stairlifts are customizable for just about any length or style of stairs, including rounded or multi-directional stairways. 

You can also place brightly colored tape along any step or place where the floor height changes. You can also hire a handyman or contractor to smooth out any uneven surfaces.

Bedrooms and Living Spaces

Electric cords can be hazardous for both tripping and fire-related injuries, so move (or remove) them from anywhere family members or guests walk or reach for things. Never plug too many electrical devices or appliances into one outlet or power strip. Be sure to replace any electrical cord, plug, or device that is damaged or has frayed ends. 

Arrange furniture to allow a clear path for walking through any room. Many manufacturers make senior-friendly furniture such as beds, chairs, and tables that make it easier to sit down, stand up, and stay steady. 

Lighting

As we age, our eyes often need assistance. Make sure the entire house is adequately lit and that all light switches are easily accessible. Plug in nightlights/motion sensor lights throughout the home, especially through hallways or any areas that are likely to be especially dark or difficult to navigate. 

Safety-Proof a Home for Seniors Now

One final note regarding how to safety-proof a home: Keep the house clean and free of clutter. Whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional service to do it for you, it’s very important to maintain a living environment that’s clear of dirt, mold, toxins, insects, or other potential hazards. 

If you need help finding resources, funding, or other assistance in safety-proofing the home of a person you care about, contact Omicelo Health. We have staff and materials on hand to guide you through every step of the process. 

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