A Place for Mom
Assisted Living
Memory Care
Independent Living
Senior Living
Sign in
A senior man smiling in front of flowers outside his house

Aging at Home: Essential Tips for Safe Home Care

11 minute readLast updated December 18, 2023
fact checkedon December 18, 2023
Written by Kevin Ryan, senior living writer
Reviewed by Michael Ferraina, home health care executiveMichael Ferraina has 15+ years of home health care industry experience and focuses on growth strategies, business development, and team mentoring.
More info

With an increasing number of older adults choosing to age at home, it’s important for families to consider safety precautions to help ensure that their loved one’s home remains safe. Creating a room by room safety checklist can reduce fall risks and prevent injuries. Making a conscious effort to follow safety steps, combined with supportive services, can help seniors age in place longer.

Is home care the right fit?

Let our free assessment guide you to the best senior living options, tailored to your needs.

Take our free care quiz

Safety tips to help reduce fall risks

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[01] With aging skin and decreased bone density, seniors often face physical challenges recovering from falls, and the financial impact of medically supported recovery can be significant.

The following safety tips can help make your loved one’s home safer while minimizing the chances of a fall:

  • Remove trip hazards. Area rugs, electrical cords, low tables, and ottomans are all risks. Install nonslip flooring, and cover all cords and wires.
  • Install bathroom grab bars. Grab bars can be purchased at hardware stores and installed by handy do-it-yourselfers, plumbers, or home safety specialists.
  • Provide easy seating.  Kitchen and shower stools make it easier for seniors to perform activities of daily living, like cooking and bathing.
  • Check thresholds. Raised flooring between rooms can be a trip hazard. Ask a safety expert about flattening thresholds or adding indoor ramps or handrails.
  • Outdoor spaces. Check the driveway for cracks and be sure there’s a clear path to the mailbox. Remove trip hazards in the yard like rocks and roots.

Is home care the right fit?

Let our free assessment guide you to the best senior living options, tailored to your needs.

Products and services to promote safe home care for elderly adults

Even if your aging relative isn’t tech-savvy, these easy-to-use devices can help seniors to reduce fall risks, manage medication, and access help in case of emergency:

  • Medical alert devices can help with keeping the elderly safe in their own homes.Wearable devices have easy-access buttons to call for emergency assistance and can be connected to landlines or cellular service. Some devices also provide fall detection.
  • Automatic pill dispensers, such as Hero and MedaCube, are simple and safe ways to manage your medications. PillPack is a medication delivery service that prepackages your medications sorted by date and time and ships them to you monthly.
  • Senior-friendly cell phoneshelp older adults stay connected with friends and family, and they make emergency help more accessible in case of an accident. Some phones, like the GreatCall Jitterbug and the Consumer Cellular GrandPad, come with built-in emergency networks and GPS tracking.
  • Smart home devices can set medication reminders, make emergency calls, and access entertainment like audiobooks and music.
  • GPS tracking devices can help prevent the dangers of wandering in senior loved ones with dementia or memory loss.
  • Telehealth services provide seniors access to doctors and nurses without leaving the comfort of their homes.
  • Hearing aids can help increase in-home safety for those with hearing loss. Over the counter hearing aids are now available for individuals living with mild to moderate hearing loss.[02]

Using a home safety checklist can prevent risks

Create a home safety checklist to review each month. Here are examples of questions to consider when creating your list:

  • Does each level of the house have a working smoke detector?
  • Does the home have a carbon monoxide detector?
  • Are there easy-to-use fire extinguishers in all common rooms of the house?
  • Has the furnace been inspected?
  • Are the towel racks, bath mats, and handles secure?
  • Have burnt-out light bulbs been replaced?
  • Are there poorly lit places where smart lights or motion sensors with bulb alerts can be installed?
  • Have laundry lint traps been cleaned?
  • Are there funny smells, signs of hoarding, or excessive trash around the house?
  • Are your loved one’s doors and locks working properly?

A graphic showing steps that can be taken in each room of a house to make a living space safer for seniors

Home care questions? Get expert help

Tell us your care needs to receive personalized guidance from our advisors.

Home safety tips for seniors with dementia

Seniors with mild cognitive impairment may be able to age at home but it’s important to recognize that dementia is a progressive condition. Seniors who have begun to wander or have experienced significant memory loss should be supervised at all times.

If you’re caring for a senior loved one in your own home, take these additional safety precautions to help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s home safety risks:

  • Use appliances with auto-shutoff features, or install hidden gas valves and circuit breakers, so that ovens, fireplaces, and stoves can’t be left on.
  • Put finger guards on garbage disposals, or cover switches with safety locks.
  • Lock all drawers and cabinets containing knives, cleaning supplies, and medication. Also, secure garages or basements that may contain harmful chemicals or machinery.
  • Make sure locks on exterior doors are out of sight (either high or low), or use deadbolts to prevent wandering outside the house.
  • Remove locks from the senior’s bedroom and bathroom so they can’t accidentally lock themselves in and start to panic.
  • Install easily accessible lights and night lights throughout the home to reduce disorientation at night.
  • Create clear paths and open areas. This helps to encourage independence and social interaction, which are two important needs for people with dementia.[03]

Be proactive with safe home care for seniors

Often, elderly people don’t realize their home is unsafe and don’t feel the need to make changes, says Linda Bohmbach, cofounder and vice president of sales and marketing at Home Healthsmith, a home safety modification company in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. About half of those who request home safety inspections are seniors, and the other half are concerned relatives.

To help keep seniors safe in their own homes, it’s best to start preparing before an emergency or life-changing event. Proper precautions can reduce fall risks, and avoiding injuries makes it much easier for seniors to age at home.

“We believe that more people are getting the message about being proactive, but it’s a challenge,” says Fritzi Gros-Daillon, director of education and advocacy at Age Safe America. “The consequences of a fall, like a visit to the E.R., are more likely to be a motivator these days.”

By starting small with simpler additions — like grab bars, nonslip mats, and accessible light switches and door handles — you may be able to reduce the need for more significant and expensive renovations. A certified home safety specialist can help prioritize steps to keep your senior loved one safe in their home.

Schedule a home safety inspection

An initial inspection is a vital first step on any home safety checklist, as an expert may notice risk factors a family member doesn’t recognize.

“We start our safety audit at the driveway and work our way in to determine any potential hazards that may put you at risk,” says Bohmbach.

A thorough home safety inspection should include the following:

  • An assessment of “red zones,” like bathrooms, kitchens, staircases, porches, and outdoor steps
  • A search for existing fall hazards
  • A check for fire hazards and working alarms
  • Information about door widening, stair lifts, wheelchair ramps, and any other appropriate accessibility or safety additions
  • A comprehensive proposal, including pricing

Any home is adaptable for elderly safety

If your senior loved one is set on aging at home, accessibility devices can help. Chair lifts can be installed in multistory houses, and ramps can replace exterior steps.

Bohmbach notes that seniors deserve to feel independent in the houses they love and that any home can be made senior-friendly with the right modifications.

“When they look in the mirror, they don’t see someone who’s older,” she says. “They see someone about to go off to war, or a businessman or a homemaker, so we make the modifications to help them live a full and independent life at home.”

Whether it’s small fixes like moving electric outlets to accessible locations and replacing doorknobs with lever handles, or bigger renovations like adding an elevator, home safety experts can help allow your senior loved one to age in place.

Finding safe home care for seniors aging in place

While accessibility devices and routine safety checks can help with home safety in elderly adults, assistance with health care and activities of daily living may become necessary as seniors age. In-home care is a valuable resource that can offer a range of benefits for seniors aging in place. If your loved one needs extra support at home, A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help you explore home care options that fit your loved one’s needs and budget.

SHARE THE ARTICLE

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 16). Keep on your feet — Preventing older adult falls.

  2. Yates, L., Csipke, E., Moniz-Cook, E., Leung, P., Walton, H., Charlesworth, G., Spector, A., Hogervorst, E., Mountain, G., Orrell, M. (2019, September 10). The development of the promoting independence in dementia (PRIDE) intervention to enhance independence in dementiaClinical Interventions in Aging.

  3. Bohmbach, L. Personal communication.

  4. Gros-Daillon, F. Personal communication.

Meet the Author
Kevin Ryan, senior living writer

Kevin Ryan is a content specialist at A Place for Mom, focused on home care topics that include defining the differences between home care and other senior care types, home care costs, and how to pay. Kevin’s desire to support seniors and their families stems from his previous career as a teacher, plus his experience as a writer and community journalist.

Edited by

Danny Szlauderbach

Reviewed by

Michael Ferraina, home health care executive

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Home Care options tailored to your needs