As we age, it’s important to take into account the home safety needs that come with it. A home safety assessment checklist can help home health care service providers and entrepreneurs understand what modifications or supportive services may be necessary for their elderly clients. This article will outline some of the key points that should be considered in a home safety assessment for seniors.
Home Safety Assessment Checklist
Elements of a home safety assessment checklist for seniors include:
- Checking for loose carpeting, rugs or floorboards
- Ensuring that all tables and chairs are balanced; not prone to tipping over
- Checking for good lighting throughout the home, especially near stairways
- Making sure there are no hazards in the home that could cause a fall, such as loose railings or crowded hallways
- Inspecting the home for fire hazards, such as overloaded electrical sockets or flammable liquids stored improperly
- Installing supportive services, such as grab bars in the bathroom or a home security system
- Making home modifications, such as installing ramps or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchair accessibility
It’s important to have a home safety assessment checklist tailored to the specific needs of seniors.
The Importance of Fall Prevention
Falls among seniors are the most dangerous type of home accident. They are also the most common, accounting for over a million visits to the emergency room each year. Falls can cause serious injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma, and can even lead to death.
There are many things that can be done to prevent falls in the home. Some fall prevention tips include:
Remove trip hazards: Remove loose cords, throw rugs, and clutter from walkways.
Install handrails: Install handrails on both sides of stairways, and make sure they are firmly attached to the wall. Install handrails and grab bars in the bathrooms and shower/tub areas.
Improve lighting: Add more light fixtures throughout the home, especially near stairways and in dark hallways.
Wear proper footwear: Wear shoes that fit well and provide good support. Avoid walking in socks, slippers or in shoes that have rubberized soles that may stick to flooring.
Use a cane or walker: If a senior has trouble balancing, provide a cane or walker for stabilization when walking around the home or outdoors.
Fires are another type of home hazard that can be especially dangerous for seniors. According to the National Fire Protection Association, people over the age of 65 are more than twice as likely to die in a home fire than the general population.
There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of home fires, such as:
Never leave candles unattended: If candles are in use, make sure they are blown out before leaving a room. A great alternative are candles with batteries that offer no possibility of an unattended fire.
Lighters and matches: Although most seniors no longer use lighters or matches, any misuse of these items can quickly cause a fast fire. Supervise use, if possible, and look for alternatives to lighters and matches.
Kitchen use: If a client is using a kitchen, ensure that any stovetop or appliance with high heat, such as a teakettle, is being used properly by your client. Keep dish towels and clothing away from stovetop burners. Keep potholders handy and ready-to-use for safety. Turn down the hot water heater if water from the faucet is heated enough to cause a burn.
Don’t overload electrical sockets: Plug in one appliance per socket and don’t use extension cords. Use caution when using surge bars or other multiple-plug equipment.
Keep flammable liquids stored properly: Store flammable liquids, such as gasoline and cleaning products, in safe containers away from heat sources.
Poor lighting is a common contributing factor to falls and other accidents in the home. It’s important to make sure there is adequate lighting throughout the home, especially in stairways, hallways, and bathrooms.
Some lighting tips include:
Install night lights: Night lights can help your client see around their home at night.
Use motion sensor lights: Motion sensor lights can be helpful in hallways and stairways.
Turn on the lights before going outdoors at night: Remind your client to turn on the outdoor light if going outside at night. Ensure the pathway to the outdoor garbage can is well-lighted. Use an automatic porch/front door light that comes on at dusk and turns off at first light.
Install support rails: If your client has trouble reaching light switches, install support rails that a client can hold the rail while turning on/off a light.
There are many support services that can be helpful for seniors, such as home security systems, medical alert systems, and home care services.
Home security systems can help deter burglaries and provide peace of mind. Medical alert systems can help seniors get the assistance they need in case of an emergency. Home care services can help with things like cooking, cleaning, and transportation.
Making Home Modifications
Making home modifications is another way to make the home of a senior safer and more accessible. Some home modification ideas include:
Install ramps: If a senior has trouble with stairs, install a ramp at the entrance of the home.
Widen doorways: If a wheelchair or walker is in use, widen doorways to make it easier to get around.
Install grab bars: Grab bars can help a senior stay steady when getting in and out of the shower.
Why Home Health Care Service Providers Need this Checklist
As a home health care service provider, it’s important to be aware of the potential hazards in your client’s home. By conducting a home safety assessment and making sure the home is safe, you can help prevent accidents and injuries.
Conducting a home safety assessment is also a good way to build trust with your clients. Showing that you care about their safety and well-being will help build a strong relationship.
This home safety checklist can be used as a starting point for your home safety assessment. Be sure to tailor the assessment to your client’s individual needs and home environment.
A home safety assessment is a crucial step in keeping seniors safe at home. By taking the time to assess the home for potential hazards and making the necessary changes, you can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.