About 77% of adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes as they age, according to a study by AARP. To prevent injuries, reduce fall risks, and maximize independence for a loved one aging at home, it’s important for families and seniors to incorporate home safety tips and follow a home safety checklist. These steps, sometimes combined with safe home care services, can help seniors age in place longer.
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). With aging skin and decreased bone density, seniors often have difficulty recovering from falls physically, and the financial impact of medically supported recovery can be significant.
In fact, each prevented fall saves an average of $30,000 in hospital and rehabilitation costs, according to Fritzi Gros-Daillon, director of education and advocacy at Age Safe America.
Follow these home safety tips to reduce fall risk and keep the elderly safe in their own homes:
Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.
Even if your aging relative isn’t tech-savvy, these simple and easy-to-use devices can help seniors aging at home by reducing fall risks, managing medication, and accessing help in case of emergency:
Home maintenance is key for seniors aging at home. Create a home safety checklist to review monthly, and suggest home safety assessments annually. Here are examples of questions to include on your list:
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Seniors with mild cognitive impairment may be able to age at home, but those who have begun to wander or have experienced significant memory loss should be supervised at all times. In some cases, you need to weigh the benefits and costs of home care vs. nursing home care.
If you’re caring for a senior loved one with dementia in your own home, take these additional safety precautions to help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s home safety risks:
Often, elderly people don’t realize their home is unsafe and don’t feel the need to make changes, says Bohmbach. 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 Gros-Daillon. “The consequences of a fall, like a trip to the ER, 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.
An initial inspection is a vital first step on any home safety checklist, as an expert may notice risk factors a family member can’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:
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 any home can be made senior-friendly with the right modifications, and that seniors deserve to feel independent in the houses they love.
“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.
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 and home health are valuable resources and can offer a range of benefits for seniors aging in place.
For expert support and guidance, you can contact a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom. At no cost to your family, they’ll help you find an in-home care professional who can help your loved one stay safe at home.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 16). Keep on your feet — Preventing older adult falls.
Gros-Daillon, F. Personal communication.
Bohmbach, L. Personal communication.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2022, August 16). FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enabling Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans. FDA.gov.
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 dementia. Clinical Interventions in Aging.
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