Using a home safety checklist for seniors is a great way to mitigate the risk of injury from falls and accidents. The leading cause of injury for seniors is suffering a fall, and the risk increases with age. But, using a checklist helps you to be sure that the environment is hazard-free and safe for seniors.
Learn how to use a home safety checklist in your home or your loved ones’ home. Find out about the leading cause of accidents for seniors living in their home or a care facility. And, discover the benefits of ensuring your environment is accommodating of your physical wellbeing as you or your loved one ages.
Why is it Important to Use a Home Safety Checklist for Seniors in 2021?
A home safety checklist for seniors ensures that the environment is free of common hazards that pose a risk of causing a fall or injury. According to the CDC, over 3 million seniors go to the emergency room each year due to injuries sustained in a fall. It is easy to assume that you or your loved one won’t become a statistic – but there is only one way to be sure.
A home safety checklist helps address the most common hazards present in a senior’s living environment. You or your loved one might be resistant to changing your living environment, but it’s important to remember that the benefits of ensuring a safe living space outweigh the drawbacks. If you want help assessing the risks in your home, contact Cass County Medical Care Facility to perform a professional fall risk assessment or home safety check.
‘The Usual Suspects’ for Fall Hazards and Senior Home safety Risks
Serious injuries are often preventable, but the hazards that cause them are often overlooked. Almost every home contains the same risks – give or take a few. So, by knowing where the most common hazards are in the home, you can make proactive moves to mitigate fall risks and injuries.
How to Make a Bathroom Safe for Seniors
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas of the home for one simple reason – the floor can become slippery. The first thing you can do to improve the safety in your bathroom is to install grab bars along with the toilet, walls, shower, and bathtub. Next, mitigate the effects of slippery floors by putting a few slip-resistant mats on the bathroom floor and in the shower.
As you or your loved one ages, sitting and standing can become difficult, and the toilet will need a raised seat with armrests. Likewise, the shower should have a plastic shower chair with rubber non-slip feet. And, by installing wall dispensers in the shower and next to the sink for soap, shampoo, and conditioner, there is less risk of an accident taking place when a senior bends over to pick up shower implements.
How to Reduce Hazards in the Bedroom
If you or your loved one has a hard time navigating around the living space it poses the risk of causing a fall. Reducing the amount of clutter and creating more open space is essential – especially as seniors age. This is vital for seniors when trying to get into or out of bed, as a cluttered space increases the risk of losing one’s balance.
Once the bedroom is cleared of unnecessary clutter and there is plenty of room to walk without obstruction, be sure the bedroom is well lit. Make sure that there is a lightswitch, flashlight, and telephone within reach of the bed – without getting out of bed. And, place nightlights at the base of the bed and along walking paths to make navigation easy in the dark.
Creating a Safe Living Area for Seniors
Like the bedroom – the living space should be clear of obstruction and accommodating wide paths for moving around the room. Pay special attention to the furniture that is low to the ground, as it can pose a fall risk for seniors who use a cane or walker. Make sure that potted plants, coffee tables, coat racks, and ottomans are not encroaching on the walking pathways between the living area and other rooms.
At the entrance to every room, make sure that light switches are easily accessible in the dark, by installing a glow-in-the-dark light switch. Walk around the house and remove any loose area rugs and doormats. Another option is to place non-slip backing or strong double-sided carpet tape on any rugs that you want to remain.
Anywhere that appliances or corded things are plugged in, make sure the cords are neatly tucked away as to be clear of any walking areas. The best solution is to hide electrical cords under a cord stip that attaches over the wires and runs along the wall or ceiling. Do not organize wires and cords underneath an area rug or along the junction between two rooms.
Safety for Seniors in the Kitchen and Other Areas
Kitchens with hardwood floors can cause a fall risk if the boards are loose or uneven. Likewise, dining room chairs and any other wooden furniture should be solid and firm, without any wobble or wiggle. Seniors increasingly must use the furniture for supporting themselves as they sit or stand, so be sure your furniture is in good condition.
If you or your loved one enjoys cooking, there are several ways to ensure that the kitchen is free of hazards. The first thing to do is to reorganize the kitchen to make sure all the food, dishes, and cooking tools are easily accessible at a waist-high level. Upper cabinets should only be used for storing non-frequently used implements. To reach upper cabinets get a high-quality, light-weight step stool, or an easy-reach claw.
Finally, be sure that any stairways are lit by installing floor lights or nightlights along the stairs. Reduce the risk of slipping on the stairs by ensuring sturdy banisters run the length of the staircase, and install stair treads on each step. Many seniors prefer to have a handrail on both sides to make climbing the stairs easier over the years.
Get Help Assessing the Safety Risks for Seniors in Your Home
By implementing these simple criteria around the home, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling or accidents occurring as you or your loved one ages. Creating a safe environment for you or your senior loved one might seem daunting – but you are not alone. Consult with a Cass County Medical Care Facility associate on your home safety checklist for seniors.