Hidden Hazards for At-Home Seniors

It is well known that falls are the number one cause of accidents for seniors in the home, and many older adults sustain these injuries from things they use every day. While these potential hazards can be overlooked, they are also easily corrected.

Here are several recommendations for improving safety at home:

  • Cords/Cables: any type of cord should be completed tucked out of the way to prevent tripping. Check that all electrical/extension cords are intact, not damaged or frayed and appropriate for the device.
  • Lighting: walkways, halls and stairs should be well lit and light switches should be easily accessible. Motion-activated lighting makes good sense for home exteriors and entry ways. Ensure light bulb wattage is correct for each fixture.
  • Mats/Throw Rugs: use rubber matting or double-sided tape on any rugs that slide to prevent movement. Throw rugs should have slip-resistant backing. Do not place throw rugs or mats in frequently used walkways such as paths to bathrooms or the kitchen.
  • Furniture/Clutter: if furniture legs are encroaching on a traffic path, rearrange or remove pieces that could catch a foot. Don’t pile things by doors or stairs or on counters too close to the stove. Ensure items in upper cabinets are securely stored to prevent them from falling.
  • Water/Bath: the temperature on the hot water heater should be in a safe range to prevent burns or scalding – especially important for those who are less sensitive to higher temperatures due to conditions like diabetes. Ensure that all grab bars, shower seats and raised toilet seats are well-anchored and secure.
  • Phone/Communications: telephones should be accessible from the bed, in the kitchen and in other areas of the home so no one rushes to take a call. Some phones can be complicated to use, especially cell phones. Check with your loved ones to make sure they can easily make and accept calls, otherwise help them get a simpler device.

If it’s time to call a home care agency for ongoing assistance, they will perform a detailed safety assessment to ensure that you or your loved ones can continue to live happily and safely at home.