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Home Safety for Your Aging Loved One

At Four Seasons, we care about your loved one’s safety in their home. In this article, you’ll find ways to improve the safety conditions in their home as well as additional resources.

Remove Throw and Area Rugs

Rugs of any kind can be a tripping hazard for your loved one, especially if they tend to “shuffle.”

Ensure Hallways and Entryways are Well Lit

Front doorways and hallways can grow dark throughout the day, making it more difficult for an aging person to see. Place nightlights in hallways and ensure lightbulbs are fresh and bright in entryways to help your loved one navigate their home more safely when it’s dark.

Ensure that Cords are Tucked Away

Keep extension cords and other plugs out of main walkways. You can use electrical tape or zip ties to secure cords against a wall or other furniture if necessary.

Always Plug Space Heaters Directly into the Wall

As the weather gets colder, many aging people find space heaters to be helpful. Always plug space heaters and other similar small appliances directly into the wall. When plugged into extension cords and strip outlets, they become major fire hazards.

Stair Safety

Stairs can be a hazard for several reasons. If your loved one has slick stairs, consider adding grips to the stairs to help them not slip. Add railings to staircases if they don’t already have them. Ensure areas with stairs are well-lit to help your loved one navigate them better. And last, if your loved one struggles with stairs, consider adding a stair lift to large flights of stairs or helping your loved one to arrange their living space so that they do not have to navigate stairs frequently.

Shower and Bath Safety

The bathroom can pose several safety hazards. If your loved one struggles to push themselves up off the toilet or seems to “plop” down with little control, consider installing a taller toilet. You can also add safety handrails near the toilet to help your loved one stand. Hand railings can also be a good addition to your loved one’s shower and/or tub. If the shower doesn’t already have a seat or isn’t a good seat, consider adding a shower chair so that your loved one can more comfortably bathe. You may also want to add grips to the shower floor. However, we don’t recommend a grip mat as these can slip or could cause your loved one to trip.

Smoke and CO2 Detectors

Ensure that any and all smoke or carbon dioxide detectors are in working order, have fresh batteries, and are properly spaced throughout the home. If your loved one’s home doesn’t have detectors or they are not spaced well, you can purchase self-installed detectors at your local hardware store or contact an electrician to have them professionally installed.

Store Medications Properly

Always leave medications in the bottle in which they came so that the medication name, dose, and other important information are intact. Keep medication out of the reach of children and shut away in a safe cabinet. Last, always dispose of medications safely and properly, especially if a medication expires. Most police or sheriff’s offices offer drug take-back programs. Contact your local department to ask about their procedure for turning in unused medications.

Create a Safety Plan

Talk to your loved one about a safety plan for their home. You may find it helpful to create an emergency preparedness kit with flashlights and other supplies in an easily accessible place. Consider plans of evacuation in the event of a fire or flood. Place flashlights strategically throughout the home in case of a power outage. You may also want to consider equipping your loved one’s home with a generator if you live in an area where power outages are frequent due to inclement weather or powerline placement. Include your loved one in the process of creating a plan and then practice your plan together.

Additional Safety Resources

ADA Accessibility Requirements

Health In Aging Tip Sheet

National Institute on Aging Safety Tips

Aging Care: Conducting a Home Safety Assessment for Seniors

Safe Wise: Room by Room Guide to Senior Home Safety

A Guide to Home Modifications to Age in Place