And for family caregivers who are looking after an aging parent, making sure their home is safe and secure is top of mind.
Creating a home safety checklist for seniors, for elderly parents or older relatives can help to give you some peace of mind and help to ensure that your elderly loved ones are protected against injury and danger, while still allowing them the independence they need to live their daily lives, in their own home with dignity.
So, in this article we’ll go over the most important items to consider when creating a home safety checklist for seniors living alone.
But, if you prefer to hire a Home Safety Specialist or Occupational Therapist to provide you with a home safety assessment, that can be an excellent option for those who have more complex needs.
Checklist For Ensuring Home Safety For Older Adults Residing Alone
Generally speaking, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of potential fall risks for elderly people living alone.
But having a checklist can help keep you and your family informed about the state of their living conditions, so that you can identify potential dangers before something happens.
Truthfully, as a senior myself and a trained Occupational Therapist, I just can’t fathom any good reason why any older adult or families with seniors should avoid using a checklist to make sure that their loved ones are safe and secure.
So, let’s go over the important items to include in your home safety checklist for seniors living alone.
General Safety Checklist
Having smoke alarms in the home is important for any household, but especially crucial for those who may not be able to respond quickly in the event of a fire.
A smoke detector should be placed in each bedroom, as well as at least one on every level of the home.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and extremely dangerous gas. Having working carbon monoxide detectors in the home can help alert people if there is a high level of gas present in the air.
It doesn’t take much time to install these detectors and they can provide a great sense of peace of mind.
Just make sure to test them on a regular basis and replace any expired batteries.
Having a fire extinguisher located near the kitchen is also important, as this can help to quickly put out any small fires that may start.
Make sure that the floor surface is non-slip and free of any objects or furniture that may cause an elderly person to trip. Also be sure that carpets are tacked down securely and replace any frayed rugs or mats.
In the event of an emergency, it’s important to have a plan in place. This includes emergency contacts, medical information, and a disaster preparedness kit. Your emergency kit should include essential items such as food, water, first aid supplies, and medications.
Emergency Contact Information
Having emergency contact information readily available is essential for elderly adults living alone. This should include a list of family and friends who can be contacted in case of an emergency, as well as the contact number of their doctor and other important contacts.
Having an escape plan mapped out in case of a fire is essential. Make sure all exit points are clearly marked and that there is an evacuation plan in place. It is also important to practice the escape plan with your elderly loved one so they know what to do in case of a fire.
Living Spaces Throughout The Home
Storage And Organization
Making sure there is adequate space for the storage of personal items, such as medications, kitchen supplies, and other supplies, can help keep them from being misplaced or forgotten.
It also helps reduce the clutter that can lead to falls or other accidents in the home.
A place for everything and everything in it’s place is a good motto to keep in mind.
Making sure that there is sufficient lighting inside and outside the home can help decrease the risk of falls. Motion sensors and night lights are also helpful in providing extra illumination when needed.
Wireless motion sensor lights are especially helpful for seniors living alone, as they can be used to detect any unexpected activity in the home.
Due to normal age-related vision loss, older people need correct glasses and more light to perform daily activities efficiently and safely.National Library of Medicine
Accessibility Of Items And Furniture
Ensuring that items are easily within reach can help reduce the risk of falls.
It is also important to make sure any furniture that could be a tripping hazard, such as coffee tables or area rugs, are securely anchored to the floor or wall.
Doors And Windows
Making sure that windows are locked can provide an extra layer of security. Also, ensuring that the locks on doors are functional and easy to use is essential for seniors living alone.
Making sure that handrails are securely fastened on both sides of a staircase is essential for elderly adults living alone.
This can help provide extra balance and support when going up or down.
Install secure stair treads or non-slip surfaces on the stair treads, which can help reduce the risk of falls and make going up and down stairs much easier.
The entire staircase should have a good amount of lighting, as the elderly often have difficulty seeing in the dark. This can help reduce the risk of falls even further.
Housekeeping and Maintenance
Having a plan in place for regular housekeeping and maintenance can help reduce the risk of slips and falls.
This includes vacuuming regularly, dusting, wiping down surfaces, replacing lightbulbs, checking smoke alarms, and other basic household tasks.
Non-slip Bath Mats
Having a non-slip bath mat in the tub or shower can help reduce the risk of falls. It is also important to make sure that grab bars are installed properly and securely.
Shower Chair or Bench
Having a shower chair or bench in the bathroom can provide extra support for those who may need help getting up and down. It is also helpful for those with limited mobility.
Also, make sure that shower and bathtub flooring are also non-slip. Use of adhesive strips can be very helpful here.
Installing grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and shower can help provide extra support. They should be anchored securely to the wall and easy to grip.
A raised toilet seat or seat frame can help make it easier for seniors to get on and off the toilet. It is also important to ensure that there are handles or rails nearby for extra support.
Replacing traditional plumbing fixtures with levers can help make it easier to use the sink and bathtub. This is especially helpful for those with limited mobility in their hands or arms.
Keeping Items Within Easy Reach
Making sure that items such as toiletries, towels, and clothing are within easy reach can help reduce the risk of falls. Have a basket near the toilet or bath to store these items.
It is important to have a secure place to store medications and other medical supplies.
Having a locked container near the bed or in a bathroom cabinet can help keep them out of reach of small children, as well as prevent accidental overdoses.
To avoid scalding, set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Also, make sure that any exposed pipes are adequately insulated and secure.
Reaching For Items While In Bed
Keeping items within easy reach is important for safety. Have a bedside table with items such as books, water, and a flashlight in case of an emergency.
A panic button or portable alarm can be worn around the neck, wrist, or belt loop. It can alert nearby family members and medical personnel when help is needed in an emergency situation.
Fire Safety Plan
Having a fire safety plan in place is essential for older adults living alone. It is important to check smoke alarms regularly and make sure they are in working condition.
Make sure that fire extinguishers are accessible, and have an escape plan mapped out in case of a fire.
Bed rails can help prevent falls and make it easier to get in and out of bed. Make sure they are securely attached to the bed frame and that the height is adjustable for comfort.
Having an adjustable bed can help provide extra support for those who may have difficulty moving around.
It can also make it easier to get in and out of bed, as well as make getting comfortable much simpler.
Nightlights are a great way to illuminate pathways without too much brightness. This can be helpful for seniors living alone, as it help them move around more easily in the dark.
Having a step stool in the kitchen can help make it easier to reach items on high shelves and cabinets.
Make sure that the step stool has a stable base and is securely fastened to the floor.
Any items that are in high shelves or very low shelves should be moved to a more accessible location. This can help prevent any falls or injuries while reaching for items in the kitchen.
Making sure that knives are kept in a secure place can help prevent accidental cuts or injuries. It is also important to ensure that knives are properly sharpened to make them easier to use.
Many seniors may have difficulty preparing meals for themselves, so having grocery delivery or meal delivery services available can be beneficial.
Adding knob covers to stove knobs can help prevent older adults from accidentally turning on the stove or oven and causing a fire.
It is also important to keep pot handles turned in so they don’t accidentally get knocked over.
Avoid Chairs With Casters
Having chairs with casters can be dangerous for older adults who are prone to falls. Make sure that any chairs in the kitchen have a sturdy base and don’t have wheels on them.
Auto Shut Off Features
Having an auto shut off feature installed on appliances can help prevent fires or other accidents.
Make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific models before installing any auto shut off feature.
Fire Blankets and Fire Extinguishers
Having a fire blanket or fire extinguisher nearby can help prevent small fires from turning into large ones.
Make sure to check the expiration date on any fire blanket or extinguisher that is being used.
Technology can be a valuable resource for seniors living alone. Communication devices such as smartphones and tablets can help stay connected with family and friends.
In case of an emergency, it’s essential to make sure that your elderly loved one has access to a telephone at all times.
Having a mobile phone with them or providing them with a landline can help them to contact emergency services if needed.
Medical Alert System
Having an emergency medical alert system in place is critical for seniors living alone as it can help get them assistance quickly in the event of a fall or other emergency.
An emergency response system is an important safety feature for any home, but especially essential for seniors living alone.
An emergency response system typically includes a bracelet or necklace that has a button that your elderly loved one can press to contact emergency services if needed.
Having monitoring devices in place is an important safety feature for any home. Monitoring devices can detect smoke, carbon monoxide, water leaks and other potential hazards.
They can also provide real-time alerts if there is a problem.
Health Tracking Devices
Health tracking devices can help keep tabs on your loved one’s health, including their heart rate and breathing.
These devices are especially helpful for seniors living alone who may not have anyone around to check in on them regularly.
Home automation systems offer added safety and convenience for seniors living alone. These systems allow them to control their lights, locks and thermostats from a single device.
This can also help them to conserve energy and save money on their utility bills.
Health And Wellness
Maintaining good health and wellness is essential for seniors living alone. Regular exercise and physical activity can improve overall health and well-being. Mental health is also important.
Consider joining support groups or seeking the help of a mental health professional.
Preventative health measures such as regular check-ups and screenings can also help prevent serious health issues.
For seniors taking multiple medications, having a system in place to manage them is important.
This includes making sure that the right doses are taken at the right times and that any expired or unused medication is disposed of safely.
Falling is a common danger for seniors, so it’s important to take steps to prevent falls in the home.
These include ensuring that floors are free of clutter, throw rugs and loose mats, installing handrails along staircases, clearing pathways of obstacles, and having bright lighting throughout the home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million adults 65 years and older are treated for unintentional fall injuries each year. While many of these injuries can be prevented by equipping senior citizens’ homes with relatively inexpensive safety equipment, most are living without these features.seniorlivingnews.com
Loose objects and tripping hazards are a major cause of at-home falls for elderly individuals living alone.
Staying connected with family and friends is important for seniors living alone. Consider joining support groups or volunteering opportunities to stay engaged and connected with others.
Don’t refuse in-home care if you need it. A home health aide caregiver can help with care needs and everyday activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation and medication management.
Outdoor lighting is also important for safety and security. Motion-sensor lights can be installed near entryways, so that seniors living alone are alerted to any activity outside their home.
I personally use solar lights in many areas throughout my yard. Although be aware that solar lights do not put out as much as a traditional light.
Using solar lights or motion-activated lights can help illuminate dark areas around the property.
This can provide extra security if someone approaches the home unexpectedly at night. It also provides additional light for any outdoor activities that the senior might do in their yard.
Locks and Security Systems
Making sure that all locks and security systems are up to date is essential for any home.
Consider replacing existing locks with keyless entry locks, as this can provide added security without needing to carry a physical key.
Installing an alarm system or monitoring service can also provide extra safety and peace of mind.
Ensure that outdoor steps are kept clear and free of ice, snow or debris. Having a non-slip surface on outdoor steps can also help reduce the risk of falls in the event of inclement weather.
Driving safety is important for seniors. It’s one of the most difficult issues that adult children face when caring for an elderly parent.
Have a plan in place if driving is no longer an option, such as public transportation or rideshare services.
Legal And Financial Matters
Managing finances can be challenging for seniors living alone. Budgeting, bill payments, and fraud prevention should be a top priority.
Consider enlisting the help of a trusted family member or financial advisor for financial assistance.
Ensure that all legal documents are in place including a will, power of attorney and advance medical directives.
An estate planning attorney can help you create these documents and ensure that your wishes are followed.
Future Living Matters
Plan for The Future
Older adults don’t want to think about possible physical decline or physical limitations, but it’s important to plan ahead.
This includes creating a living will or estate planning. It’s also important to have a financial plan in place for future care needs.
Also, researching independent living communities and perhaps a local assisted living facility or maybe even moving in with an elderly relative (or vice versa) may be important options to consider if at some point you require extra help.
You can speak with geriatric care managers who can help you to become aware of what housing and care choices are available in your area.