Teri Koff, LCSW, CMC
Aging Life Care Consultant
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Home Safety Tips
Resources for Older Adults




Preventing falls and promoting safety in the home is the key to living independently and having peace of mind.  Start with a good evaluation of your home.  There are large and small improvements that can be readily implemented to secure a safe environment. Slipping, tripping or falling can be prevented with proper planning.


What to look for?  Safety checklist for the home.  It may be useful to go through the house, room by room, to assess for any safety hazards.  Be observant to your surrounding environment and the various hazards that could occur.  Review the checklist for ideas to maintain safety and independence you want and deserve.


  Home Environment:


Do you have stairs to climb (inside or out)?  Are there secure handrails which make climbing up and down easier?


What is surface of your floors?  Do you have scatter rugs (torn or loose carpeting), uneven or slippery floor surfaces?  Floors should be made slip-resistant - use nonskid mats under rugs.  Evaluate areas where the elderly are likely to trip over or fall (floor threshold should be as low as possible).


What visual obstacles are potential risks for falls in your home?  (Clutter, overcrowded or protruding furniture, electrical or telephone cords).  Minimize obstacles!


Is home lighting inside and out working efficiently or producing glare?  Considering using a clap-on, clap off system for lighting or other appliances.   Use nightlights in hallways and bathroom areas.


Is the home in good repair?  Are appliances working properly and are all the household utilities (telephone and electrical) in service?  Heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical and gas systems working properly and efficiently?

  Replace the doorknobs with levers, as these are easy to open even if the person has arthritis or other disabilities.


  A shower chair or bath seat allows a person to be seated while bathing and eliminates the need to lower oneself into the bath.

  Hand-held shower hoses allow a person to direct the flow of water as desired.  Individuals experiencing difficulty with mobility in their arm and wrist joints, such as arthritis sufferers can maneuver with greater ease.

  Add handrails or grab bars in the bathroom (bath / shower and toilet). 

  Utilizing a faucet with a single control for hot and cool water.

  Bathroom equipment can easily be obtained at your local surgical supply store or vendor.



Do you have PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) installed? (also known as a Medical Emergency Alert System)  Medical alarms can provide 24 hour a day support to emergency services and contact family members.


Fire Safety—know all exits to  home, have fire extinguishers available (read directions for proper use and maintenance), and remove hazardous materials from home.


Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are important for everyone.  Are they properly installed (read instructions carefully) and checked regularly for battery replacement. (* It is recommended that batteries by replaced annually – schedule on a calendar as a reminder).


Are locks and windows in working order?  Keys to the home should be placed in a secure location inside (hall or door entrance)  to prevent losing or misplacing them.


Emergency telephone numbers for physician, family and friends, list of current medications, allergies and medical conditions must be readily visible.


Install burglar alarm, bells and buzzers.  Services vary from community to community.  Check with your local 911 services or professional security consultant.

  Home preparedness kit—supplies for several days in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack.  Include water, canned food, can opener, flashlights, batteries, battery operated radio, charged cell phone, extra medications, warm clothes, and a pre arranged communication plan with friends, neighbors and family.


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