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Safety Proofing Your Home For Elderly

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  • 01-02-2021
Safety Proofing Your Home For Elderly

How do you safety proof your home for the elderly? We look at ways to prevent accidents around the home for elderly and vulnerable adults. By safety proofing the home of a loved one, you can reduce the harm caused by falls or accidents.

Home Safety Tips For Older Adults

Ensuring that your home environment is safe to live in is becoming increasingly important, given that many older adults are choosing to live in their own homes. Some of the most common hazards that older people face in their homes include trips, falls, burns and poisonings. 

Alongside these interior hazards, older adults are increasingly at risk of crime and scams, with criminals choosing to target older adults specifically. If you are an older adult who lives alone or someone who cares for an elderly adult or loved one, this article will detail a few steps you can take to help make their home a safer place.

One of the easiest things you or your loved ones can do is to ensure that emergency contact details are placed next to any phone in the home. These lists of numbers should be written so that anyone with vision problems can read them quickly and easily. 

You should include numbers for emergency services, family members or friends, healthcare professionals, and other relevant authorities.

Understanding the Risks of Falls

Preventing falls

Falls are one of the biggest hazards faced by older adults in their own homes and a leading cause of injuries. This hazard is so common due to the various ways that old age affects a person's mobility, limiting them and affecting their confidence in their ability to move around. 

If someone has difficulty getting around or has recently suffered a home fall, they should discuss their difficulties with their GP, who can arrange for a fall risk assessment to be conducted. You may also ask your GP whether you would benefit from particular exercises that can increase mobility and balance. 

If you have already suffered a fall in your home, you may be afraid that it can happen again - which is yet another way that falling can limit someone's movement in their own home. 

However, emergency alarm bracelets or medical alert devices and systems are available that will allow you to contact an emergency service should you suffer another fall and require assistance. This can help to give people back their confidence after falling.

You can also take preventative measures to make your home better suited to your mobility limitations. Ensuring that your floors are free from clutter or unsecured throw rugs and carpets will help mitigate the risk of falling. 

Wearing appropriate footwear, perhaps with rubber soles for greater traction, can also help reduce the risk of falling. Finally, if you own or have been prescribed a walking stick or frame, you should always use this when moving around the house to increase stability.

How to Safety-proof your home  

You can carry out many safety modifications to your home to make them safer. The first of which is to ensure that spaces that are often travelled through are clear and free of obstacles. 

This includes hallways, stairs, corridors and paths. These areas should have adequate lighting, perhaps by night lights, so that any potential fall hazards can easily be spotted and therefore avoided. Potential obstacles may include shoes, furniture, cords or any other small object that could potentially cause a fall.

Another effective way to prevent falls and make it easier to get around in the home includes installing grab railings or bannisters on areas where stability is required. You may find that these pieces of equipment are most beneficial on the stairs, which, for older people with joint or balance issues, can often be challenging to navigate. We also advise that you do not place area rugs, furniture or any other obstacles at the foot or the top of any stairs, as these can pose a significant falling risk.

Ensuring that any rugs or carpets in your home are adequately fixed or taped to the floor is also an excellent way to mitigate the risks of falling. Loose rugs that can bunch up are a significant hazard to mobility, especially for older people. Therefore, ensuring that they are secure and do not move when walking on them is another excellent solution to potential falling hazards. 

01

Protect against fire and other dangers

Aside from falling, fires are another significant hazard that elderly adults must contend with when living independently. Thankfully, there are yet more ways in which ageing people can help mitigate any risks regarding fires. These include:

Not attempting to put fires out yourself. Instead, leave the building and contact the emergency services.

You should know of at least two routes out of the building should a fire break out. 

Ensuring that any appliances with frayed or damaged wires are replaced.

Not putting too many electrical plugs into one socket or extension lead. 

Having a smoke detector installed in your home and replacing its batteries twice per year. 

Avoid wearing loose, trailing clothing when cooking.

Avoid smoking in bed or leaving burning candles unattended. 

Ensuring that any heat sources, such as electrical heaters, are at least three feet away from any flammable materials. Portable heaters should also be turned off when leaving the room.

02

Bathroom hazards

Bathrooms may also prove hazardous for older adults. Again, however, there are preventative steps that you can take to mitigate any risks that bathrooms could present.
These include:

Having your water temperature set no higher than 38 degrees Celsius will help prevent you from scalding yourself.

Installing rubber non-slip mats in your bath and shower can also help to prevent slips and falls.

Installing grab bars in your shower and next to your toilet will also help you navigate and use your bathroom safely.

If you find it particularly difficult to climb in and out of the bath or use the toilet, there are specially designed bathtubs and raised toilet seats to make this easier and safer.   

03

Medication

Given that many older people take multiple forms of medication a day, poisoning is an ever-present risk. There are several ways in which you can mitigate this risk:

Store all medications in their original packaging so that they are not mixed up. 

You should make sure to take your medication in a well-lit room so that you can differentiate between separate medications.

You could even request that your pharmacist places labels in a legible print so that you can more easily read the medication descriptions. 

You should also bring your empty medication containers when you go to visit your GP so that they can monitor how much of each type you are taking.

04

Protect against abuse

One of the other threats facing older people living alone is abuse from scammers and criminals. 

Given the vulnerability of older adults, they are an easy target for criminals, who will bully or con them for their money. 

Some of the best things you can do to combat this are:

Keep all of your doors and windows securely locked

Never let any strangers into your home

Never share your personal information with people you do not know   

Never be pressured to make donations or purchases, and always discuss these encounters with your family members. 

05

Carbon monoxide poisoning 

The best way to avoid this form of poisoning is to have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home. 

Given that carbon monoxide is odourless, you will not be able to tell whether you have a gas leak without a detector.

They are, therefore, an essential piece of safety equipment for your home. We additionally recommend that you do not try to heat your home using a stove or gas cooker, as this can also lead to odourless gas leaks that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

06

Prevent poisoning

There are many ways in which an older person may experience poisoning when living alone. 

Aside from falls and burns, poisoning is another common hazard that older adults face in their homes. Thankfully, there are several steps that a person can make to ensure that their home is as safe as possible.

07

Cleaning products  

You should never mix cleaning products together when cleaning. Keeping bleaches, ammonia, or any other form of cleaning product separate is the safest way to clean.   


If you are concerned about fall prevention at home, we hope this information has been useful to you.

We offer specialist home care services and live-in care for vulnerable adults throughout London. Get in contact today if you have a loved one that would benefit from care at home.