Many mishaps and accidents can happen inside the home. Seniors living independently should be aware of potential safety problems and use this safety checklist as a quick guide for improving household safety. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The average bathroom is teeming with potential hazards that may cause seniors to lose balance or slip on a wet surface. Bath safety products can provide greater stability and protection from falls. Non-slip mats are an easy way to help seniors keep their balance while bathing or showering. Install a grab bar on one or more walls to provide instant stability. A bath step makes accessing the tub easier, and seniors can sit on a sturdy bath bench instead of standing.
Falls can happen anywhere in the home, and this is the leading cause of injury among seniors. One way to stop trip and fall incidents is to clear away anything cluttering the floors, including old furniture. Get rid of throw rugs that have no rubberized backing. Loose rugs tend to slide when stepped on, causing a senior to go off-balance without something to grab onto. Remove extension cords crossing walking paths. Instead, use cord holders or tape to keep them neatly out of the way.
Safety in the Kitchen
Kitchen floors can sometimes become slippery, especially after a spill or floor cleaning. Seniors should always clean up any liquid spill right away to ensure no additional accidents take place. Wear non-slip shoes, slippers or socks when walking into the kitchen after mopping.
Kitchen cabinets and counters are another area to check. Are stored foods too high or too low on shelves? Make an adjustment inside cabinets so seniors can reach items without straining. Installing a Lazy Susan (rotating shelf) can make lower storage easier to manage. A stepstool or ladder with a handrail is helpful for reaching items on higher shelves, and so is a grabber tool. Lighting can be added inside and underneath cabinets for better illumination.
Living Room Safety
Re-organize the living room, if needed, to keep room clutter down to a bare minimum. Make sure there is adequate lighting and easy access to lamps. Discard any furniture with broken or wobbly legs and replace with solid pieces that provide stability in case a senior loses their balance. No carpeting or low-pile carpets are preferable to shag carpeting. Check room temperature to ensure the room is never too cold or too hot. Install a lock-in switch on the thermometer if there’s an issue with turning the heat up too high.
Energy-efficient windows and window treatments help with room comfort while saving money on heating and cooling.
What to Do About Stairs
Stairs can prove challenging for some seniors and navigating them safely requires workable solutions. Do a safety check on all stair railings to ensure they are firm, not wobbly. Make rail repairs or replacements when needed. All stairs should remain clear of objects, debris, water, ice, etc.
For seniors with visual impairments, safety can be improved by painting or taping alternating steps with a contrasting color. If a senior can no longer safely navigate indoor stairs, consider installing a motorized stairlift.
Bedrooms should be a cozy place to relax with plenty of lighting to illuminate walking paths. Closets should be cleared of clutter. And the bed itself may need to be raised with bed leg risers to make it easier to access. Also consider installing a bed safety rail to prevent accidental falls.