Caregivers in Illinois and Missouri that we talk with each week often express their concern for a loved one living at home alone. While they don’t want to prevent them from remaining independent and in their own home, they also don’t want them to be at risk for a fall. Many older adults have lived in their homes for several decades and their homes might not be the safest environment for them in their present condition.
We thought caregivers might benefit from having a simple tool to use room-by-room to help identify risks that could contribute to a fall.
Good lighting is in place over all stairways. This includes an on/off switch at both the top and bottom of stairways.
Hand rails are in place and in good condition.
Carpeting and thresholds between rooms are level and secure. Uneven thresholds and torn or bulging carpets create a risk for falls.
Furniture arrangements allow for wide pathways and easy mobility around the room.
Good lighting is available in every room. Nightlights are in place in key areas such as stairways and bathrooms.
Towel bars should not be used (or placed where they might be used) as grab bars.
Bathtub is modified to allow fall free access. A secure bath tub chair should also be considered.
A raised toilet seat is in place if needed.
A small, easy-to-use fire extinguisher is stored in an easily accessible place in the kitchen.
Stove top burners are free from clutter including curtains and kitchen towels.
Grab bar by the bedside to help get in/out of bed without leaning/pulling on furniture.
Flashlights are placed on or near bedside table and in key living areas of the house.
Sidewalks are free of cracks that may present tripping hazards.
Exterior stairs all have sturdy hand rails.
Furnace/cooling system has twice a year inspections.
Medication management system in place.
There are working phones in all rooms with large numbers that make it easier for older eyes.
Non-skid shoes and slippers are on hand in convenient locations for your loved one.
Carbon monoxide detector is in place and tested regularly.
A home alarm or medical alert system is in place.
Decals/signs for the home alarm system are displayed in front of the home to discourage break-ins.
We hope this helps you make a thorough safety assessment of your loved one’s home. If you would like to learn more about in-home safety for seniors, NIH SeniorHealth has additional resources you may find to be of help.