Home Safety Checklist | Right At Home

Home Safety Checklist For Older Adults

Every year, a substantial number of senior citizens are injured in or near their homes. According to statistics from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1.4 million people aged 65 and up are treated in hospitals each year for injuries suffered at home or on their property.

Falls in or near the home is the leading cause of injury in older adults and Alzheimer’s patients. Also, older people are more likely than others to perish in a house fire. Many of these and other accidents are caused by hazards that are both easy to miss and repair. You can avoid injury to yourself or your loved ones at your home by noticing these hazards and taking the appropriate measures to correct them.

Bear in mind that making any of the suggested improvements might not be necessary. This article addresses a wide range of potential safety issues, and some changes might never be required. However, when behavior and abilities shift, it's crucial to re-evaluate home safety regularly.

Here is a recommended home safety checklist to guide you in recognizing potential safety concerns in and around your home that you can address:

A Room-By-Room Safety Checklist

Use the room-by-room checklist method to identify possible risks and keep track of any improvements you need to make to keep senior and Alzheimer's patients safe. Products or gadgets required for home security can be purchased at stores that sell hardware, electronics, medical supplies, and children's items. Next are the things you should consider while making the home safety checklist: 

Inside The Home

Kitchen

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in or near the kitchen and all sleeping areas. Check their operation and batteries regularly.
  • Keep flammable and volatile compounds away from gas appliances. These materials should not be stored in an area where a gas pilot light is used.
  • Install child-resistant door latches on storage cabinets and drawers containing breakable or dangerous items. Lock up all cleaning supplies, matches, knives, scissors, blades, small appliances, and anything valuable.
  • If you keep prescription or nonprescription drugs in the kitchen, keep them in a locked cabinet.
  • On the stove, install safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch.
  • Remove or secure the "junk drawer" in the family. A person who has Alzheimer's disease may eat small items such as matches, hardware, erasers, plastics, etc.
  • Disconnect the garbage disposal. People who have Alzheimer's disease may throw away objects or even put their own hands in the garbage disposal.

Bedroom

  • Use a night light.
  • Use a monitoring device (similar to those used for infants) to alert you to any sounds that may indicate a fall or other need for assistance. This is also a helpful device for bathrooms.
  • Heating pads, electric mattress pads, and electric blankets should all be used with caution because they can cause burns and fires.
  • Make use of transfer or mobility aids.
  • Read the Food and Drug Administration's safety information before using a hospital-style bed with rails or wheels.

Bathroom

  • Remove the lock from the bathroom door to keep seniors and Alzheimer's patients from becoming trapped inside.
  • In the tub and shower, use non-skid adhesive strips, decals, or mats. Consider putting these strips next to the tub, toilet, and sink if the bathroom isn't carpeted.
  • To prevent slipping on wet tile floors, use washable wall-to-wall bathroom carpeting.
  • Medication (both prescription and nonprescription) should be kept in a locked cabinet if kept in the bathroom. Check medication expiration dates and discard expired medications.
  • Remove cleaning products from under the sink, or store them in a safe place.
  • Install grab bars beside the toilet or use a raised toilet seat with handrails.
  • In the bathtub, use a foam rubber faucet cover (often used for small children) to prevent serious injury for seniors and Alzheimer’s disease patients. 
  • If a man with Alzheimer's disease uses an electric razor, instruct him to use a mirror outside the bathroom to avoid water contact.

Living Room

  • Do not leave a person with Alzheimer's disease alone in a room with an open fire. Consider other heating options.
  • Keep cigarette lighters and matches out of the person’s reach.
  • Remove all electrical cords from areas where people walk.
  • Take out any scatter rugs or throw rugs. Torn carpet should be repaired or replaced.
  • To help identify a glass pane, place decals at eye level on sliding glass doors, picture windows, or furniture with large glass panels.

Laundry Room

  • If a person with Alzheimer's tends to tamper with machinery, remove large knobs from the washer and dryer.
  • Close and latch the washer and dryer's doors, as well as lids, to keep objects out of the machines.
  • If possible, keep the laundry room door closed.
  • All laundry products should be kept in a cabinet. If you eat laundry detergent pods by accident, you could die.

Basement

  • If your senior loved one is allowed in a garage, shed, or basement, best do it with supervision, ensure that the area is well lit and that the stairs have a handrail and are safe to walk up and down.
  • Clear debris and clutter from walkways, and keep overhanging items out of reach.

Attic

  • If at all possible, avoid having the seniors use attic spaces. The attic is not a safe place for an older adult and should be avoided.

Halls

  • Modify the texture. Adjust the surface of the walkways if they often become slippery. This will provide more traction. This is where textured paint comes in handy.

 

Outside the Home

Driveway

  • Pool water can cause people to fall, and when it freezes, it becomes a dangerous hazard. To avoid this, use a slope and drainage system. Trenchers can direct the flow of water by creating channels.
  • Examine the surface for any irregularities. For the elderly, cracks, bubbles, and lumps are all dangerous, so make sure sidewalks, driveways, and other walkway surfaces are smooth and even.

Garage/Sheds

  • Secure and lock all motor vehicles and, if possible, keep them out of sight. Consider covering non-frequently used vehicles, such as bicycles. This may reduce the likelihood that the person with Alzheimer's will consider leaving.
  • Paint, fertilizers, gasoline, and cleaning supplies, for example, should be kept out of sight. Place them in a high, dry location or lock them in a cabinet.
  • If possible, secure all garages, sheds, and basements.
  • Keep all potentially dangerous items, such as tools, tackle, machines, and sporting equipment, locked away in cabinets or appropriate boxes/cases inside a garage or shed.

Yard/Backyard/Greenhouse

  • Look for exposed roots and gaps in the yard. Because mulch is already on top of the roots, cover the remainder of the plant's exposed roots to prevent further decay. In case there are any holes in the mulch, fill them in with soil.
  • With visible cameras and signs, make it clear that your home is also secured, as burglars are far less likely to target homes with security systems.
  • Be cautious when working with electricity in the greenhouse. Check that it is correctly grounded and that the extension cords are capable of holding the current. If the floors are damp or near moisture mats, avoid using electrical equipment.
  • Do not let seniors work alone in the green house.
  • Keep the sharpest tools of the greenhouse out of reach.

Throughout The Property

Steps/Stairways

  • Add traction to the step's edge. Non-slip strips come in handy in this case.
  • Steps should be more visible. If you paint the edge or install a reflective strip, your elderly loved ones will not break. Non-slip strips in bright colors may also be used for this purpose.
  • Make sure there is a rail on both sides of the stairwell. Many homes only have one stair rail, but seniors need the added stability that two rails offer. The handrail should be at arm's length and securely fastened to the wall.

Electrical Outlets

  • Check that all of your fixtures and equipment are set to the proper wattage: Check the wattage of all lamps, fixtures, and appliances to avoid electrical problems. If the wattage of a light fixture isn't specified, use 60-watt bulbs or less. Choose 25-watt bulbs for unmarked ceiling fixtures.
  • To stop electric shock, keep electrical equipment and outlets away from water.
  • To keep the home secure, replace or fix any damaged electrical cords.
     

CO Detectors

  • Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive, simple to install, and can save lives. One should be mounted on each floor of your house, near each bedroom and garage.

Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke detectors in each sleeping room as well as outside each sleeping area. Alarms should be mounted on every floor of the house.
  • Smoke detectors should be linked together. When one of them makes a sound, they all make a sound.
  • Smoke detectors may be needed in larger homes.

 Fire Extinguishers

  • Install fire extinguishers: Fire extinguishers reduce emissions caused by smoke and burning debris, but most importantly, they help keep your loved ones safe. 

 Escape Routes/Escape Plans

  • Set a clear escape route: Escape routes should be planned so seniors can evacuate fast enough to avoid being put in danger by a fire. Consider placing a ramp for seniors in wheelchairs—an emergency evacuation lift.

To make an escape plan consider the following:

  • Create a plan for all people living in the house.
  • Try to find two ways out.
  • Choose a meeting place.
  • Check the smoke detectors.

Ventilation Systems

  • Exhaust fans pull air from a specific area and exhaust it to the outside (it's called "spot ventilation”). Exhaust fans should be used in both the kitchen and the bathroom. 
  • Since most heating and cooling systems don't entirely remove moisture from the air, a whole-house or single-room dehumidifier may help reduce mold development risk.

Windows & Doors

  • Install security bars or grills in the windows.
  • Reinforce existing door locks.
  • Get a solid-core door.
  • Install wide-angle peepholes.
  • Glass reinforcement.

Burglar Deterrents

  • Top-quality door and window locks.
  • Install window alarms.
  • External motion sensor lights.
  • Keep CCTV cameras visible.

Home Safety Checklists are essential in any senior's life, more so if they happen to be an Alzheimer’s patient. For more tips on home safety for your loved done, call our team at Right At Home, as we will answer all your questions. Are you looking for a caregiver so you can get a helping hand? Our trustworthy and certified team of caregivers is always ready to improve senior’s family lives. 

Bruce Gropper
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