Home Safety Assessment for Seniors
Approximately half of all falls that lead to hospitalization for seniors occur at home ? At what age or stage should a loved one’s home be evaluated for safety, comfort and ease of mobility? A realistic, objective evaluation is necessary to assess and evaluate your loved one’s ability to remain independent, safe and dignified at home.
RISK FACTORS for Safety at Home
- Hearing and/or vision loss or changes
- Changes in cognitive status, memory loss
- Mental health, mood changes, depression
- Medication effects
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis
- Infection: urinary tract infections, pneumonia, flu etc.
- Lack of mobility
- History of falls
- Alcohol or drug use
START THE CONVERSATION with your loved one to assess and evaluate the safety of their home environment.
Let’s begin at the entrance of the home (apartment, house or condominium):
- ◻️Walkway: Is the home entrance/pathway clear? (inside land outside the home). Is there a snow and/or ice removal system or people in place when needed.
- ◻️Stairs: Is there a secure handrail on both sides of any stairs and are the steps secure?
- ◻️Lighting: Is there enough light to find keys and access lock?
- ◻️Locks: Can doors be securely locked?
- ◻️Doors: Has there been a conversation and review of instructions to not open the door or answer the phone or buzzer to strangers?
- ◻️Is there a seat available to sit to put on boots or shoes?
- ◻️Phone Safety: Assess need for an additional portable phone, so that it is always accessible. Reinforce phone, mail and cyber safety to not talk to strangers or to not provide any banking or any information on the phone or agree to any purchases. Elder abuse is rampant.
- ◻️Fall Safety: Discuss the need for a Lifeline or other emergency system.
- ◻️Emergency ?List: Create a phone list of family member and emergency contacts in large print and secure to a visible place.
- ◻️Flooring: is the floor surface slippery? Scatter rugs are a hazard.
- ◻️Footwear: Non slip, full shoe, rubber soled footwear or slippers should always be worn (to prevent slipping and tripping).
- ◻️Chemicals: Where are cleaning supplies stored? Chemical should be starting a safe place away from food. Are flammables kept away from heat? Are chemicals stored in original containers? Outdated products should be safely disposed.
- ◻️Furniture: Is furniture properly placed for easy mobility and safe pathways? Is furniture sturdy or in need of repair?
- ◻️Lighting: Is there good lighting especially at night using night lights in hallways and bathroom areas?
- ◻️Cleanliness: Is home routinely cleaned and sanitized?
- ◻️Is there a clear path from the bed to the bedroom?
- ◻️Pets?: Can cause a trip or fall.
- ◻️Assistive Devices: Walkers and canes can be helpful must be properly prescribed and in good repair.
- ◻️ Home temperature: isntheee proper regulation and control of heat in the home? Fresh air is also very beneficial.
- ◻️Fire Safety: is there a working fire ? alarm/smoke detector on every floor of the home. When was the last time it was tested and or batteries changed?
- ◻️Is there a fire extinguisher and has its use been taught and reinforced?
- ◻️Electrical Safety: Are power bars used to prevent overloading of electrical outlets.
- ◻️ Is there a properly working carbon monoxide detector in the home?
- ◻️Smoking: If there is a smoker in the home is there proper instructions, ventilation and safe disposal?
- ◻️Has the fridge been cleaned out and sanitized properly?
- ◻️Food ? Safety: is there proper food preparation and storage? Expired and old food items should be disposed.
- ◻️Items should be within easy reach and accessible.
- ◻️Stove and microwaves: Are there any burnt pots, burnt items or odours in the home? (Even microwaves can produce a fire).
- ◻️Appliances: Have any appliances caused an injury? (Irons, kettles, coffee makers, toasters produce heat and can burn.
- ◻️Tub?/Shower ?Safety: A tub or shower chair allows you to sit securely and the use of a hand held shower provides greater flexibity to properly wash and rinse. Properly positioned and secured grab bars allow for safe mobility and transfers in and out. Nonskid tub mats and a nonskid mat next to the tub or shower are very important to prevent slipping.
- ◻️Toilet? Safety: if the toilet is low, a raised toilet seat; grab bars; bath chair or seat; hand held shower; non skid tub mat are items that promote safety in the bathroom.
- ◻️Infection Control: Is the bathroom and bathroom items being properly cleaned and sanitized?
- ◻️Water ? temperature: Hot water can cause very serious burns and should be regulated to prevent burns. Public Health Canada recommends to set the temperature of your water heater to 49°C or 120°F.
There are many additional factors that can affect an individuals’ safety in their home environment. Take the time to ensure your loved one is living in a safe, hygienic and comfortable environment.