ALERT:
Man walks up stairs in assisted living community

When Home is No Longer Safe for an Older Loved One

June 11, 2024

A Home Safety Checklist

For many seniors, their home is where they feel most comfortable, yet many do not fully realize the possible safety hazards that exist. Since home safety for older adults is key to healthy aging, it’s a good idea to look around your loved one’s house and decide if it’s time to consider another option.

Aging in Place and Home Safety for Older Adults

Feeling safe at home plays a big role in a person’s overall well-being, especially for a senior who is determined to remain as independent as possible. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that the experience of feeling unsafe in the home can lead to stress, lower self-efficacy, a perceived loss of control and lower health-related quality of life for the older adult.

If your Mom or Dad is motivated to remain in their home, you might suggest going through a checklist together, so that you can address the safety topic with them. It’s quite possible they already have some concerns on their mind, so addressing the overall subject of home safety for older adults could be a welcome conversation. 

Here are some things to look for that might cause a concern:

Living Areas

  • Has clutter been removed so that your loved one can easily walk through the home?
  • Have electric cords and wires been secured to walls so that they cannot become tripping hazards?
  • Are carpets and large area rugs secured to the floor?
  • Have all the throw rugs been removed?
  • Is furniture arranged so that walkways are not blocked?
  • Are sofas and chairs the right height for your loved one?

Bedrooms

  • Is the path from the bed to the bathroom free of clutter?
  • Is there a light close to the bed that is within easy reach?
  • Does your loved one have a telephone next to their bed in case of an emergency?

Kitchens

  • Are appliances easy to use?
  • Do any of them have an emergency shut-off feature?
  • Are commonly used items placed on lower, easy-to-reach shelves?
  • Is there a fire extinguisher?
  • Is the cooking area well lit?
  • Is there a smoke detector with batteries that are regularly replaced?

Stairs

  • Does your loved one often leave piles of magazines, laundry or other items on the stairs?
  • Is the handrail sturdy?
  • Are any of the steps uneven?
  • Are there light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs?
  • Is there a bedroom on the main floor so that your loved one does not have to access the stairs daily?

Bathrooms

  • Do you have a non-slip rubber mat or self- stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower?
  • Do you have grab bars to assist you in getting in/out of the tub or up from the toilet?
  • Are the sink, bathtub and shower faucets easy to use?
  • Is a low toilet making it hard to stand up and posing a fall hazard?

Other Home Safety Considerations

The physical structure of a home is certainly something to review when determining whether a senior can safely age in place. But there are other factors concerning home safety for older adults as well.

For instance, how secure does your loved one feel in an emergency? It could be a loss of power in the middle of a storm, a strange knock on the door at midnight, or a scam artist knocking on the door promising new siding. Feeling vulnerable can lead to anxiety, depression and other health problems, especially if your Mom or Dad hesitates to tell you for fear they will be admitting they cannot be on their own—and they will lose their independence if they have to life in a supportive environment.

At The Herrick House, We Are Here to Help

We understand the needs of our residents—the desire to remain close to family and friends, to the neighborhoods where they lived and worked, to the things that are most familiar. The Herrick House allows your loved one to continue the lifestyle they want in a warm and supportive atmosphere without the worries of maintaining a home.

We are your friends, your supporters, and your trusted advisor on assisted living options. Download our free guide, “Staying Home vs. Senior Living: Should you stay or should you go?”, A deep-dive into the differences between home care and senior living to help you make an informed decision.

Home Care vs. Senior Living

Learn about differences between home care and senior living.