a senior talks with a younger woman on the couch

Home Safety for Seniors: Your Guide and Checklist

Whether your senior loved one is living at home alone, with a caregiver, or they’re fortunate enough to live in a retirement community, it’s important to know how to keep seniors safe at home. In a retirement community, senior safety is of the utmost importance, but for a variety of reasons, not all aging adults are able to move to a senior living community. No matter their living situation, use the following tips to ensure home safety for seniors. But first, let’s consider why it’s necessary to use extra safety precautions in an older person’s home.

Why It Can Be Dangerous for Seniors to Live at Home Alone

Seniors who live alone at home are at risk of falling and injuring themselves, or having some other sort of medical emergency for which they don’t receive help quickly enough. When a senior is responsible for their own medication management, they may be more likely to make an error and experience a medical issue. Seniors are often subject to crimes like burglary, or even more often to telemarketing phone scams and people trying to obtain their personal information to steal from them. Plus, one often overlooked danger for seniors living alone at home is the social isolation that results from being alone so often, which can negatively affect their mental health. For these reasons and more, it’s important to take the necessary steps and precautions to ensure home safety for seniors.

How to Make Your Home Senior-Friendly

1. Eliminate tripping hazards. To decrease the chance of tripping or falling, remove objects and furniture that are cluttering the floor or are below eye level. Tighten up loose handrails, and make sure cords and wires are out of the way. Check for uneven flooring or unmarked steps, and work to get these things repaired or resolved. And remember to check the lights. Replace burned out bulbs and consider adding brighter bulbs to increase visibility in hallways and staircases.

2. Make the bathroom senior-friendly. With water and slick surfaces, bathrooms often create the biggest risk for falls. Ensure bathroom safety for elderly by modifying the bathroom with handrails and grab bars. Add a stable shower seat if there isn’t one already. Add grips to the floor of the shower or tub to reduce the risk of slipping. Ensure the bathroom is well-lit and that cords and small accessories like hair dryers and electric razors are properly stored.

senior man comforted by young child

3. Ensure the home is maneuverable for assistive devices. If your senior loved one uses a walker, wheelchair or cane, make sure the house is accessible for them. Clear objects and clutter from the floor to make it easier to move around, install ramps where possible, and place commonly used items at eye level or easily within reach.

4. Install technology to make it easy for them to alert someone for help. In the event of a fall or other medical emergency, the senior you care for needs to be able to alert someone to help them as soon as possible. There are elderly safety devices like pendants and bracelets that require only the push of button to alert first responders. Or you might consider installing an Amazon Alexa or other voice-activated device, and program it to notify a family member or first responders with a verbal command.

hand presses alarm on ceiling

5. Make sure smoke detectors are working. Check that the smoke detectors in the home are properly placed and the batteries are fresh.

6. Establish a medication management system. It can be easy to forget or mix up medications, so have a system and routine in place to make this easy for your senior loved one. One simple solution is a pill box that’s marked with the days of the week, so at the beginning of the week the medication can be divided out into each day, and the senior can easily tell whether or not they’ve taken it that day. This also serves as a good reminder of when prescriptions need to be refilled, since you’re checking it weekly.

7. Install anti-scalding devices. Technology can be incorporated in sinks and showers to protect skin by ensuring the water doesn’t go over a certain temperature.

8. Get a GPS watch for your senior loved one. Modern watches like the Apple Watch can connect a senior to their iPhone and can help them keep track of things and call for help if they need it. It can also help the caregiver keep track of the senior if they tend to wander.

senior woman and husband set up alarm system to keep them safe at home

9. Install an alarm system for the house. Since seniors can be targets for burglary due their lessened ability to defend themselves, it’s important for the house to be as secure as possible. This can also provide peace of mind for the senior.

10. Bring furniture, appliances and commonly used objects to the senior’s level. To avoid making the senior you care for go out of their way to reach for things they need, make sure it’s easy for them to get in and out of the shower and bed, and don’t store things out of reach. Install safety bed rails for the elderly to improve the home’s accessibility.

two seniors eat a meal at their senior dining center

When your senior loved one lives at The Buckingham, you’ll never have to worry that they aren’t receiving the highest quality of care and supervision, while still enjoying their independence. The services and amenities offered in our independent living, assisted living and memory care neighborhoods, and our skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers ensure they’ll live the safest and best life possible. Whether the senior you care for is considering moving to The Buckingham or not, we want to provide useful resources for seniors and caregivers everywhere, because we care about senior safety. Check out our blog to learn more about senior living and to access resources for seniors and their families and caregivers.