Home Safety Checklist for Seniors Who Choose To Age in Placeby Reading 1 Min
The elderly are particularly susceptible to falls due to mobility issues, weakened muscles and joints, and vision impairment. Statistics show that one out of every five falls’ results in severe injury, usually broken bones, hip fractures, or head injuries. The repercussions of a fall among the elderly can be complex, expensive, and sometimes even fatal. Research shows that falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
According to studies, most falls among the elderly happen in residential areas such as the home or garden. This is why, if your loved ones choose to age in place, it's vital to maintain a home safety checklist and ensure their safety at home. Homes can have fall hazards that we don't expect, such as wet bathrooms, stairs, unnecessary clutter, or loose carpets and rugs. However, aging in place can be a very fulfilling experience for your loved ones if you take the right precautions to make the home safe.
We’ve created a home safety checklist for seniors that can be useful in ensuring their safety and peace of mind.
Home Safety Checklist for Seniors
- Consider re-tiling the bathroom floor using non-slip/anti-skid tiles.
- Install grab bars at sections where it tends to get wet, such as the tub, shower, and near the toilet seat.
- Use non-slip, latex-backed mats or rugs.
- Even out the flooring to avoid steps in areas such as the shower entryway.
- Install a height-adjustable toilet seat.
- Re-install cabinets at accessible spots to avoid reaching too high or bending down.
- Install a bathtub safety step and rail.
- Use minimal, reliable, and necessary furniture.
- Secure cords and wires to ensure they are out of the way.
- Install switches and plug points at accessible places.
- Consider installing motion-sensor lighting for safety in the dark.
- Install a bedside safety step stool to make getting in and out of bed safe and easy.
- Keep necessary equipment such as canes or chargers within reach.
Pro Tip – How to Choose the Best Bed Step Stool?
- Install all storage units at accessible heights or consider pull-out drawers or lazy Susans.
- Consider non-slip tiling or placing non-slip mats in critical areas of the kitchen.
- Install motion-sensor lighting for nighttime.
- Install faucets with lever fixtures instead of knobs.
- Use only necessary appliances with easy-to-use handles and switches.
- Install good lighting throughout the living room.
- Remove unnecessary furniture or clutter.
- Widen doorways or entryways and keep passageways free of tripping hazards.
- Survey all carpets or rugs for any loose ends that could serve as tripping hazards.
- Place non-slip stickers on steps.
Other general tips:
- Keep the garden and patio clutter-free.
- Install rails along the staircases or consider moving your loved one’s bedroom to the ground floor.
- Install sturdy grab bars wherever necessary throughout the house.
- Keep home security systems up to date. Ensure they are working and easily accessible at all times.
- Keep a check on home maintenance regularly.
- Identify your loved one’s specific needs and incorporate mobility and home aids for the elderly for daily living.
Additional ‘Medicare Plan’ Pro Tips:
While adhering to a home safety checklist is ideal, it can be expensive. Medicare doesn’t traditionally cover home renovations for the elderly who choose to age in place, but there are ways to overcome some of the financial burdens.
For instance, some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Plan C) do cover the installation of bathroom safety and mobility devices, also known as Durable Medical Equipment (DME), for aging in place. This is because the bathroom is considered one of the most dangerous places in the house for falls. DME may include:
- Height adjustable or raised toilet seats
- Bathroom grab bars
- Walk-in tubs
- Wheelchair ramps
- Doorway widening
There are other avenues that offer financial assistance to the elderly or disabled to make necessary modifications to their homes. These include:
- Low-interest loans: Some governmental organizations offer an amount for home modifications on low-interest rates.
- Home Improvements grants: These are offered as one-time grants for specific modifications or the purchase of certain equipment.
- Free Labor: Often, non-profit organizations will offer free labor to make home modifications or installations, but this won’t cover the cost of materials needed.
- Equipment loans: Certain organizations will arrange a long-term loan for an expensive piece of equipment such as a wheelchair ramp. You can even return the equipment when it's no longer required.
Some other miscellaneous options involve
- Receiving funds from The Older Americans Act through the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).
- Veterans Directed, Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS) help veterans who require nursing care to remain living in their homes by providing financial assistance for home modifications and environmental accessibility.
- Certain medical expenses such as the purchase of special equipment or service costs can be tax-deductible to a certain extent.
- Money follows the Person is a Medicaid program that offers up to $45,000 to nursing home residents who wish to return to their homes. This covers home modifications and equipment, but beneficiaries must have specific criteria to get this grant, including being an active participant of the Medicaid program and having the authorization to make modifications by the Department of Medical Assistance.
- Non-profit organizations such as Homeods.org, based in the University of Southern California, helps promote aging in place for seniors by guiding them through the process of efficient home modifications through online training programs.
While preparation for aging in place seems like a daunting task, maintaining a home safety checklist makes it simpler. Stressing on the importance of elderly care products and lifestyle, there are now several avenues of financial assistance to make vital home modifications accessible to most seniors. With the proper research, preparation, and investments, aging in place can be very rewarding to both seniors and their families.
Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.