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An age-friendly home checklist

When my parents decided to move closer to us, I worried about whether their new house would be safe for them. While their priority was to be within a few miles of my family, I worried about how well they would do in their new home when I wasn’t there. I knew we should examine the home to determine if it was safe and what we might have to change, but I was still unsure as to what I needed to look for. After doing a little research, I was able to find a checklist about making your home safe for seniors and it helped me see if my parents new home would work for them.

There are three major areas which need to be focused on when considering home safety for the elderly. These three areas are interior safety, exterior safety, and emergency preparedness. When each of these areas has been thoroughly examined, you can feel more assured that your senior loved one’s home is safe for them.

Interior safety – Falling is the number one concern. All fall risks need to be carefully assessed:

  • Are there things the senior will need to maneuver around?
  • Should the senior have a pendant alert system or cell phone in order to get help should a fall occur?
  • Are there throw rugs which need to be removed and is all carpet safely tacked down?
  • Is there furniture of any kind that will block walking pathways and potentially be a falling hazard.
  • Is there a table with sharp edges or a glass topped table in the primary sitting area?
  • Does the home have a bathroom on the first floor? If it doesn’t, is there another room which can be converted into one?
  • Is the hallway lighted at night?
  • Does the home have grab bars in the bathroom to help enter and exit the shower, or to assist at the toilet?
  • In order to shower, will the senior need to step into the tub? Does the shower floor have non-slip grips?
  • Are all everyday cooking utensils and tools within reach without using a step stool?
  • Are there concerns about the senior operating the stove/oven in their own?

Exterior safety – All aspects outside of the home should be carefully examined:

  • Can the home be easily and safely entered and exited from? Are there any modifications such as ramps or railings which need to be installed in order to make this happen?
  • Do all windows securely lock?
  • Are there storm doors which are heavy-duty and securely fastened to the door frame? Do all of the exterior doors have deadbolts?
  • Is the surrounding area safe for the senior to be able to go outside and feel safe living there?

Emergency Preparedness – An important part of senior safety is making sure they are prepared should a problem occur:

  • Are all important phone numbers listed in a highly visible spot?
  • Is critical information in an easy to access spot? This includes but is not limited to: important health information, social security numbers, health insurance policy information and advance directives.
  • Do all smoke detectors have working batteries? Are there flashlights near the bed and primary sitting areas should a power outage happen?
  • If oxygen is used in the home is there a backup power source?
  • Is there an emergency plan for evacuation? Does the fire department need to be notified there is a senior in the home with limited mobility?

(this article originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog.)

 

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.