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Are Your Parents Safe at Home? Home Safety Checklist

June 11, 2024 -
elderly couple climbing steps to their front door

Getting older brings its challenges. Sometimes it can be as difficult and worrying for the next generation as it is for their elderly parents. Most people treasure their independence, but the fact is trips, falls, and accidents become more likely and can have serious consequences for fragile older bones.

However, a little thought and a few helpful mobility aids can make all the difference. Use the following room-by-room checklist to make your parents’ house safer for their senior years. That way, they can enjoy their home and their independence in safety – and you can rest easier at night!

General checks throughout the home

Repairs and maintenance – are there any repairs needed? Check windows and doors operate smoothly and without sticking and that locks are operational.

Keeping tidy – clutter accumulates easily but can present a trip hazard and even a fire risk. Make sure there is storage for what is needed and systems in place to prevent rubbish, recycling, or unopened junk mail from piling up. Also, check for trip hazards such as loose rugs or mats.

Lighting – is the house well lit? Check if any bulbs need to be replaced and consider upgrading any lighting that is not up to standard. Pay particular attention to staircases and outdoor areas that might be used at night, such as doorways.

Communication and contacts – is there access to an easy to use phone? Check that important numbers such as doctor, close family members, etc., are either stored on the phone or written somewhere obvious. Consider subscribing to an emergency response service with a wearable call button for complete peace of mind, especially for a parent living alone.

Medicine – if either or both of your parents take regular medication, make sure it is properly labelled. A pill box is ideal, as you can organise medication for the week ahead and can be sure it will not be forgotten or taken twice.

Alarms – are there smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed throughout? Check them regularly and replace batteries every year or according to manufacturer instructions.

Stairs

General – are the stairs manageable? If not, consider a stairlift.

Handrails – are the handrails in good condition and solidly fixed? If not, they are relatively easy and inexpensive to install.

Lighting – are stairs properly illuminated? Check the top and bottom hallways in particular.

Don’t forget outdoor steps – check the above points with outdoor steps, too. Ideally, these should feature a textured surface to reduce slip hazards.

Bathrooms

Slips and trips – the bathroom is statistically the most dangerous room of the house. However, it is also the room in which privacy is most important and we are least likely to ask for help. Grab rails are the first and easiest step in making the bathroom safer.

Toilet – a raised toilet seat makes it easier, safer, and more comfortable to sit and stand without help.

Showering and bathing aids – there are numerous aids and gadgets to make it easier to bathe or take a shower safely and comfortably. These range from simple accessories like a shower chair to more sophisticated upgrades like a walk-in bath.

Kitchen

Cooker safety – ensure the cooker has safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch.

Boiling water – most of us love plenty of tea and coffee throughout the day, but handling boiling water can be hazardous. A Uccello PowerPour Kettle keeps you in perfect control.

Cans and jars – whoever invented food jars and tins never had an elderly parent with arthritis! Fortunately, there are lots of gadgets for opening them that are easy to use and inexpensive to buy.

Do a stocktake – we all find ourselves accumulating food in the fridge or cupboard from time to time. Do your parents a favour and regularly check for anything that is spoiled or past its best.

Outside

Access – if a wheelchair or other mobility aid is in regular use, is it easy to get it between the street and the main access door? Are any modifications needed, such as a ramp or wider access?

Vegetation – are bushes and hedges presenting an obstruction? Regular pruning does not take long, but if left, it can become a mammoth task.

Security – are there secure locks on all accessible doors and windows? Remember to check any sheds or outbuildings, too.

Lighting – check outdoor lighting is adequate. Automatic lighting operated by movement sensors is a worthwhile investment for both safety and security.

A useful perch – a small bench or table next to the door makes life so much easier, providing somewhere to put bags or packages while unlocking the door. Perching stools are also very useful in the kitchen and bathroom. 

Keep in mind that performing this sort of evaluation is not a “set it and forget it” exercise. People’s needs and circumstances change over time, so it is important to periodically reevaluate their home safety.

Jon Wade
Jon Wade

Jon has been working at CareCo since 2019. He uses his extensive product knowledge to provide insights and advice on the best mobility aids for every occasion.

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