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Room-by-Room Home Safety Guide for Seniors Living Alone

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According to Aging In Place, nine out of 10 people want to age at home. Family members and caregivers can make this desire a reality for their senior loved ones by preparing their homes and lives for successful aging in place.

From lighting to flooring, simple fixes can ensure a safe and secure environment for seniors who live alone. But before beginning any renovations, be sure to assess how your loved one makes use of their surroundings.

Some factors to consider include the following: 

  • Do they use a wheelchair or walker to navigate to and from rooms?
  • Are doorways and hallways wide enough to enter and exit?
  • Are there potential tripping or slipping hazards?
  • Are handles and faucets easy to turn and open?

General modifications make it easier for seniors to remain in their homes independently. If you have an aging loved one living alone, consider using the room-by-room guide to senior home safety below to prevent common accidents like falls, trips or slips.

Bedroom    

There are several changes that can make a bedroom safer for seniors who wish to age in the comfort of their own home. Before altering the space, take into consideration where the bedroom is in relation to other commonly used rooms in the house like the bathroom.

If your loved one’s bedroom happens to be on a second floor, consider moving it to the main floor. This keeps them from having to walk up and down stairs. If not possible, install a chair or stairlift to ensure your loved one’s safety. 

Other tips for senior-friendly bedrooms, include:

  • Install bed rails to prevent your loved one from rolling or falling out of bed.
  • Mount grab bars to help your loved one get in and out of bed.
  • Remove area and throw rugs to prevent your loved one from tripping or falling.
  • Install smoke detectors or fire alarms in or near the bedroom.

Small improvements like these can make a big difference for seniors who live alone.

Bathroom

AARP research has shown, “More than one-third of injuries among older adults occur in the bathroom.” As a caregiver, if you’re worried this might happen, consider purchasing your loved one a medical alert device to communicate a fall with emergency personnel.

Other precautions you can take to reduce their risk of falling, include:

  • Put non-slip pads and strips in and around the tub or shower.
  • Install grab bars in the tub or shower, as well as near the toilet to prevent slipping and sliding.
  • Raise the height of the toilet seat to improve stability while using the bathroom.
  • Eliminate obstacles like steps to make it easy to get in and out of the tub or shower.
  • Remove area rugs or mats that could cause trips and falls.
  • Purchase a shower stool, seat or bench.
  • Install an adjustable or hand-held showerhead.
  • Update the lighting to improve visibility.
  • Move frequently used items (hairbrush, toothbrush, shampoo) to easy access locations.

 Making these safety updates improve self-sufficiency for seniors wishing to age in place.

Kitchen 

If your senior loved one lives alone, they are typically the ones responsible for cooking unless an outside service is delivering meals.

With seniors being active in the kitchen, making the following upgrades will minimize the potential for accidents and injuries:

  • Invest in appliances with automatic shut-off features.
  • Arrange kitchen cupboards so that frequently used items (plates, glasses and utensils) are stored in areas that are easy to reach.
  • Replace glass items with plastic.
  • Install ample lighting above the stove and sink, as well as countertop areas.
  • Purchase two handle pots.
  • Snake or remove electrical cords.
  • Inspect wiring, outlets and smoke detectors. 

These minor modifications will help keep your aging loved one safe while cooking in the kitchen.

>>>Related Resource: If it’s time to move your loved one of out their home and into a senior living facility, check out our post, 6 Types of Senior Living Options: What's Right for Your Family?

Hallways

Every house has a hallway built-in somewhere—it’s a critical space in a home because it connects each room to one another giving you easy access to different rooms. It’s important to remove any obstacles throughout the hallway to avoid having your senior loved one trip and/or fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research shows 2.8 million adults over age sixty-five are admitted to the hospital for fall-related injuries every year.

By adding railings to hallways, older adults will be able to move around more quickly and avoid trips and falls.

Installing smoke detectors is of equal importance. The U.S. Fire Administration explains that smoke detectors work most efficiently when placed in every hallway, outside each bedroom door and on all floors in the home.

There are several smoke detector models to choose from; however, this resource shares the top smoke detectors to help find the best options.

Basement

Everyone makes use out of their basements in different ways—some use it for storage, while others make it a recreational family room. That said, this space can become cluttered quickly making it unsafe for senior loved ones.

The following items will help reduce clutter and make it safe for family members of all ages to venture downstairs:

  • Stairlifts. Stairs can become challenging for seniors later in life depending on their mobility level. Consider installing a stairlift if getting around becomes a problem for them.
  • Storage areas. Incorporating storage shelving is a great way to keep a space organized. It’s important that the shelving is installed so seniors can have easy access to the items stored on them—climbing on shelving to reach something could cause a collapse or fall and lead to serious injury. 

A basement is also a common area for laundry. If you worry about your loved one traveling up and down the stairs with a laundry bin in hand, consider researching options for relocation to a more accessible floor. There are also plenty of options to outsource laundry too, including local services that will pick up, launder and deliver freshly folded clothes to your loved one.      

We Can Help You Provide the Best Care

We understand that caring for a loved one is no simple task—especially if your elder wishes to age in place. To help you provide the highest quality of comfort and care for your loved one, download our guide for first-time family caregivers.

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Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.
 

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