The comfort and safety of home is always important but it becomes an even bigger priority for older adults. A secure and accessible environment doesn’t just improve independence and quality of life, it can actually help older adults avoid injuries that might lead to hospitalization or even long-term care. Read on to learn how seniors and their caregivers can enhance home safety, prevent falls, and better support independent living to age in place!

Senior couple on porch smiling and drinking coffee

Safety Modifications: Preventing Falls

Falls are a major concern for seniors at home, often leading to significant injuries and loss of independence. Prevent falls by making your living environment safer and more accommodating, minimizing risks and ensuring a safer home environment. Being aware of potential hazards and using a home safety checklist you go through regularly (e.g. twice a year) are helpful if you or an older adult you know wants to age in place.

Create a Room-by-Room Safety Checklist

  • Start by assessing each room for potential fall hazards like loose carpets or unnecessary clutter.
  • Ensure that all rooms have enough lighting and are free from obstacles that could cause trips.
  • Regularly check that all areas are safe and make adjustments as needed.

Maintain Clear Pathways

  • Keep all walkways and corridors free of obstacles that can become trip hazards.
  • Consider rearranging furniture to create wider and more accessible paths.
  • Regularly review the layout of your home to ensure it remains safe and navigable.

Use Non-Slip Mats in Critical Areas

  • Place non-slip mats in areas prone to wetness like the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Ensure rugs and mats have anti-slip backing to prevent them from moving underfoot.
  • Check these mats regularly to ensure they remain effective and replace them if they wear out.

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of falls and maintain your independence at home.

Remember, preventing falls isn’t just about adding equipment; it’s about creating a mindful and proactive approach to your daily environment. Regular checks and updates can make a big difference in maintaining a safe living space.

Home Modifications to Prevent Hazards:

  • Assess and modify flooring: Ensure all flooring is even and free of hazards that could cause trips and falls. Consider replacing high-pile carpets with smoother, firmer surfaces that are easier to navigate with mobility aids.
  • Install handrails and grab bars: Adding these features in key areas such as bathrooms, hallways, and staircases can provide the necessary support to move safely around your home and make showering easier. If mobility is an issue, consider installing a raised toilet seat to make getting up and down easier.
  • Optimize furniture placement: Arrange your furniture to create clear pathways and lots of space for movement. This not only enhances mobility but also minimizes the risk of accidents and reduces fall risk.

Regular Maintenance Checks

  • Conduct regular inspections of your home to identify any potential hazards. This includes checking for loose wires, faulty appliances, and general wear and tear that could pose a risk.
  • Replace or repair any items that could become hazardous to prevent accidents before they happen.

Secure Windows and Doors

  • Ensure all windows and doors have sturdy locks and are in good working condition. This not only prevents break-ins but also ensures that they can be easily opened or closed in case of an emergency.
  • Consider installing additional security features like deadbolts or security bars for added safety.

Organize and Declutter Spaces

  • Keep your living spaces organized and free of clutter to avoid trips and falls. Regularly review your home’s layout and remove unnecessary items that could create obstacles.
  • Use storage solutions that keep frequently used items within easy reach, reducing the need to stretch or bend excessively, which can lead to falls.

In conclusion, maintaining general home safety involves regular checks, securing entry points, and organizing your space efficiently. By taking these steps, you can enjoy a safer living environment and peace of mind.

Implementing Emergency Preparedness

When it comes to staying safe at home, being prepared for emergencies is crucial. As a senior, it’s important to have systems in place that can alert you and others quickly if something goes wrong. Here are some essential steps to ensure you’re ready for any situation:

  • Install alert systems: Consider setting up a medical alert device or other safety aids that can notify caregivers or emergency services at the push of a button. This can be a lifeline in a crisis, especially in the event of a fall for people who live alone. Recently, a number of camera-free fall detection devices have also come out that can bring some peace of mind and help to create a safe environment. Installing a home security system may also be an option. Some of these combine theft prevention with general home safety for you or a loved one’s home. Make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector near all bedrooms and that fire alarms are installed and working.
  • Keep a list of emergency contacts who can be alerted in the event of an emergency. This list should include family members, friends, and local emergency services.
  • Ensure easy access to first aid: Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in an easily accessible location. This should include basic medical supplies and instructions on how to use them.

Remember, taking control of your emergency preparedness is a proactive way to maintain your independence and safety at home.

By implementing these strategies, you’ll not only feel more secure, but you’ll also provide peace of mind for your loved ones. It’s all about planning ahead and making sure you have the right tools and information at your fingertips.

Enhancing Home Security

Ensuring your home is secure is crucial, especially as a senior. Here are some effective strategies to enhance your home security, keeping you safe and giving you peace of mind.

  • Use timed lighting: Well-placed and timed lighting not only makes your home less appealing to intruders but also helps prevent accidents like tripping in the dark. Consider motion-sensing lights for added efficiency and ensure steps and walkways are always well lit. Plug-in night lights (some even double as emergency flashlights) in hallways and bathrooms provide additional safety and can help you keep from stumbling during a late-night trip to the toilet.
  • Regularly check locks and alarms: Make it a habit to check that all doors and windows are securely locked before you retire for the night or whenever you leave the house. Regular maintenance checks on your alarms ensure they are in working order.

Supporting Independent Living

As you age, maintaining independence at home becomes increasingly important. Here are some practical ways to support independent living for seniors, ensuring safety, comfort, and a higher quality of life.

  • Home and community care services: Consider enlisting outside support from community agencies like Home and Community Support Services Grey-Bruce who can provide a range of help at a subsidized rate like housekeeping services, friendly visiting, transportation services and Meals on Wheels.
  • Technology:  Install smart home devices that can help manage everyday tasks. These devices can control lighting, security systems, and even adjust thermostats, all of which enhance living conditions and promote independence.
  • Educate on self-care techniques: Learning and applying self-care techniques can significantly improve your daily life. From proper nutrition to exercise routines, these practices help maintain your health and independence.

Remember, the goal is to create a living environment that not only ensures safety but also promotes a sense of autonomy and well-being.

By implementing these strategies, you can enjoy a more independent and fulfilling life at home safer, even as you grow older. If you’re unsure about what you need, speak with your health care provider (doctor or nurse) who can help you get a referral for an in-home assessment by an occupational therapist (OT). An OT can identify where you need to make changes, provide safety tips to help and may even be able to refer you so you’re able to get financial assistance for home modifications you may be eligible for.