Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Home Safety For Seniors

'Tis the season for slips and falls! Icy sidewalks, snowy paths..... and inside the house?

Here is a check list of safety precautions for the older members of the family. If your frail elderly mother is moving in with you, or Grandad is coming to stay it is a good idea to go through the house and check for hazards and add a few safety features before they come.

Front path and steps

  • Make sure that the paths to the house are even, no major cracks, roots or rocks.
  • Keep steps and paths clear of snow and ice.
  • Check the stairs - no holes or uneven concrete.
  • Hand rails, both sides if possible.
  • Path and front entrance well lit. Movement-detector lights work well.

Entrance, Hallways and Stairs

  • Declutter - make sure that shoes are put away and outdoor clothes hung up. If there are children, teach them to put their toys away.
  • Lighting - halls and stairs should be well lit. A night light in the hall between bedroom and bathroom is vital.
  • Take up any loose mats that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Check that stair rails are secure.


  • No loose mats or rugs
  • Make room around the bed, especially if your elderly Mom or Dad uses a walker.
  • Have an easy to reach lamp by the bed. If it is awkward to reach the lamp, a sound activated ("clap-on - clap-off") lamp will help.
  • A phone beside the bed.
  • For folks stiff with arthritis or others who may feel light-headed when they first stand up, a bed assist handle is a great help in preventing falls.
  • Again, keep the area around the bed as clutter-free as possible.


  • Where possible install wall bars at the end (tap end) of the bathtub and one on the far wall. A wall bar beside the toilet may also help.
  • Some all in one piece, preformed tub surrounds should not have wall bars added. Clamp-on tub grips, or a floor-to-ceiling pole next to the tub can be used.
  • Use non-slip mats in the tub or shower.
  • A tub or shower stool is useful for those with poor balance.
  • Any medications should be clearly marked. A dosette or blister pack will make it easy to keep track that the medications are taken as prescribed.

Living Room

  • Remove loose rugs and mats
  • Make sure that there is room for a walker if one is used - coffee tables often have to be moved out of the way.
  • Avoid rocking/swivelling chairs
  • Loose electrical cords are a tripping hazard. Route them away from traffic areas where possible, or use duct tape to fix them to the floor.
  • A portable telephone is safer than a fixed phone. Many falls occur when people are rushing to answer the phone. Keep the handset nearby at all times, putting it back in its charger beside the bed overnight.
  • Have good lighting, easy to reach switches.


  • Make sure that essential utensils are easy to reach
  • Use a sturdy step stool to reach higher cupboards
  • Have a smoke alarm and be sure to check the batteries regularly
  • If your older person has fairly severe memory loss, it may be necessary to limit their cooking or even unplug the stove.
  • See that any spills are quickly wiped up.

This may all seem quite overwhelming, but most homes need only a few adjustments. After all, some simple precautions could save a broken hip or worse.

Gillian is the proud grandmother of two 9 year olds and a new grandbaby boy. For more grandparenting ideas, you can visit her website:

This site offers information on grandparent's rights, distance grandparenting, seniors health, as well as photos, stories, games, and more.

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