How to Conduct a Safety Assessment of an Older Adult's Home

Sunrise Senior Living  |  August 21, 2020
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For most people, home is a haven. It’s a place to relax and restore the spirit. For those of us who are quarantining because of coronavirus concerns, this is especially true. But home can also be a place that presents many hazards. From falls to fires, it’s important to conduct a safety assessment of your home or a senior loved one’s home.

In recognition of National Safe at Home Week, held annually during the third week of August, we offer this checklist for you to review and utilize.

Checklist of Home Safety Concerns for Seniors

  • Medication management system: People are often surprised to learn that one of the leading in-home hazards is caused by medications. In fact, mistakes with medication are often the reason older adults find themselves in a hospital emergency room. In some cases, the senior has taken too much medicine, and for others it is failing to take any. You can learn more about the most common medication risk concerns here. Having a good system in place for staying on track of an older family member’s medication schedule is vital.
  • Good lighting both inside and out: Lighting is more than just a security feature for the home. While it’s true that exterior motion lights can help to deter crime, interior lights play an equally important role. Vision changes are common with aging. Having bright lighting in strategic locations around the house, such as stairways and bathrooms, may reduce the risk for falls. Night-lights placed in rooms and halls that are commonly used after dark will also help.
  • Working smoke detectors: Aging can bring slower reflexes and mobility challenges. That’s one reason why it’s important to make sure a senior’s home has alarms installed that detect both smoke and fire. For those that have a hearing impairment, smoke detectors are available that flash bright lights or shake the bed to alert the homeowner of a potential problem.
  • Secure locks on doors and windows: There is a persistent myth that seniors are at greater risk for home burglaries. That said, it’s important to make sure an older loved one’s home is safely protected. Check locks on exterior doors. Make sure windows also have secure, working locks. If there is not one already, it might be a good idea to have a home security system installed.
  • Fall hazards: Take a look at problem spots around the house that could present a fall risk. Common ones include throw rugs, extension cords, uneven thresholds between rooms, tears or bumps in carpeting, and unsteady stair treads. Just as important is to make sure all of the stairs in a home have a sturdy handrail. Grab bars in the bathroom and at one’s bedside can also lower a person’s risk for a fall.
  • Important documents safely stored: While older adults might not be at higher risk for home break-ins, they are at increased risk for identity theft. According to the FBI, elder fraud is a growing concern. You can help protect a senior by making sure important documents are stored in a secure location. These include a Medicare card, Social Security card, and credit cards. Also, make sure they understand how to protect themselves from identity theft online.
  • Emergency alert device: One final suggestion is to invest in an emergency alert system. There are discrete options available that look like a necklace or a sports watch. Many alert devices work off wireless technology and are waterproof.

Bookmark and Follow the Sunrise Blog

Whether you are a senior or a family caregiver, we understand the need to connect with the latest news on aging. We encourage you to bookmark the Sunrise Blog and visit often. You’ll find topics ranging from understanding the Medicare benefit to how to choose a senior living community for a short-term respite stay!