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Home Safety for Older Adults: A Comprehensive Guide 2024

By Shelley Cartwright

Table of Contents

    As a loved one or family member ages, the comfort and safety of their living environment become increasingly important. Aging at home comes with unique challenges and risks, from falls to medication errors. It's important to take proactive steps to ensure their space supports their well-being and independence.

    Understanding the Need for Home Safety

    Ensuring home safety for seniors is essential; they deserve to live independently and comfortably in their own spaces as they age. Unfortunately, reality often falls short of this ideal. The research underscores the urgency of this matter and reveals alarming statistics about the prevalence of accidents among older adults.

    According to a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 29% of adults aged 65 and above reported experiencing a fall at least once within the preceding year. Furthermore, an investigation by the Hospital for Special Surgery unearthed that a staggering 60% of these falls occur within the familiar confines of one's home.

    These figures underscore the critical need to implement comprehensive safety measures within seniors' living environments to prevent falls and other potential accidents, allowing them to maintain their independence and well-being.

    Safety Tips to Help Reduce Fall Risks

    Safety Tips to Help Reduce Fall Risks

    Reducing fall risks helps ensure the safety and well-being of seniors, particularly as they navigate the challenges associated with aging. Implementing proactive safety measures within their living environment can significantly minimize the likelihood of falls. 

    Here are some essential home safety modification tips to help mitigate fall risks:

    • Ensure adequate lighting: Proper illumination is crucial, especially in hallways, staircases, and frequently traversed areas. Install bright, energy-efficient lighting and consider using motion-sensor lights so pathways automatically illuminate.
    • Encourage regular exercise: Engaging in physical activity helps seniors maintain strength, balance, and flexibility, reducing their susceptibility to falls. Encourage participation in exercise programs tailored to their abilities, such as yoga, tai chi, or water aerobics.
    • Review medications: Some medications may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or other side effects that increase the risk of falls. Regularly review prescriptions with healthcare providers and be vigilant about potential interactions or adverse effects.
    • Use assistive devices: Supportive aids such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs can enhance stability and mobility for seniors with balance or mobility issues. Ensure these devices are properly fitted and maintained so they continue to be effective. 
    • Keep pathways clear: Remove clutter, obstacles, and loose rugs from walkways to create unobstructed paths throughout the home. Pay particular attention to high-traffic areas and transitions between rooms.
    • Install handrails and grab bars: Installing grab bars and sturdy handrails along staircases and in bathrooms provides support and assistance for seniors when navigating elevated surfaces or slippery environments.

    Fire & Poisoning Safety

    Fire & Poisoning Safety

    Among the myriad of challenges that elderly individuals face, accidents such as falls, burns, and poisoning stand out as common occurrences. Navigating these risks requires a proactive approach and careful consideration of preventive measures.

    Preventing Burns and Fires

    • Prioritize the replacement of appliances with worn or frayed electrical cords to minimize the risk of electrical fires.
    • Install and regularly maintain every smoke detector by the guidelines outlined by the National Fire Protection Association to ensure functional batteries are installed biannually.
    • Prevent scalding incidents by adjusting the water heater thermostat to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • While having a fire extinguisher accessible is prudent, remember to prioritize personal safety by promptly contacting emergency services in the event of a fire.
    • During culinary endeavors, avoid donning loose clothing, such as flowing sleeves, to prevent accidental contact with open flames or hot surfaces.
    • Ensure all exterior doors and windows have functioning locks, and consider deadbolts for added home security.

    Avoiding Poisoning Incidents

    • Safeguard against medication errors and confusion by storing medications in their original packaging to reduce the risk of mix-ups.
    • Install and regularly test every carbon monoxide detector to detect potential leaks and ensure the safety of indoor environments.

    Products to Promote Safe Home Care for Elderly Adults

    Products to Promote Safe Home Care for Elderly Adults

    In the realm of home care for aging adults, leveraging products and services designed for safety and convenience can significantly enhance their ability to live independently and securely.

    • Medical alert devices: Medical alert systems are a cornerstone of elderly safety, offering a direct line to emergency assistance with the simple press of a button. Options range from wearable pendants to wristbands, many of which include fall detection technology to automatically summon help when a fall is detected.
    • Medication management tools: Tools like automatic pill dispensers ensure medications are taken correctly and on time which minimizes the risk of missed or incorrect doses. Services such as PillPack simplify this process further by delivering pre-sorted medication packets directly to your door, organized by date and time.
    • Senior-friendly communication devices: Staying connected is crucial for seniors, both for social engagement and emergencies. Devices specifically designed for older adults, such as the GreatCall Jitterbug phone or the Consumer Cellular GrandPad, offer easy-to-use interfaces, emergency response features, and GPS tracking to keep loved ones secure and in touch.
    • Smart home technology: Beyond security, smart home devices can create an environment that supports seniors' daily routines, from setting medication reminders to controlling lights and thermostats, all of which contribute to a safer living space.
    • GPS and location tracking: For seniors dealing with dementia or memory issues, GPS tracking devices can be a lifesaver, offering peace of mind to families by helping to prevent wandering and ensuring their loved ones can always be located.
    • Telehealth services: Access to healthcare professionals via telehealth platforms reduces the need for physical travel, allowing seniors to receive medical advice and consultations from the comfort of their homes.
    • Hearing aids: With the advent of over-the-counter availability, hearing aids have become more accessible for those experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss, enhancing their ability to interact with their surroundings safely.

    Home Safety Tips for Seniors with Dementia

    Keeping seniors with dementia safe within their homes requires careful planning and consideration due to the unique challenges posed by cognitive impairments. As dementia progresses, the risk of wandering, memory loss, and confusion increases, making constant supervision essential for their safety and well-being.

    To adapt the home environment for a senior with dementia, consider implementing the following measures:

    • Equip the home with appliances that have automatic shut-off functions to prevent accidents involving ovens, fireplaces, and stoves.
    • Finger guards on garbage disposals and safety locks on switches can further safeguard against unintended use.
    • Secure storage for potentially dangerous items like knives, medications, and cleaning supplies is crucial; lockable drawers and cabinets can help, as well as ensuring areas like garages and basements that may contain hazardous materials or tools are inaccessible.
    • Modifying locks on exterior doors to be out of the usual line of sight and installing deadbolts can prevent unsafe wandering while removing locks from the senior’s own room and bathroom doors ensures they won’t accidentally trap themselves.
    • Enhancing home lighting with easily accessible switches and night lights can help reduce disorientation during the night.
    • Creating clear paths and open areas within the home not only minimizes the risk of falls but also promotes a sense of independence and encourages social interaction, catering to the emotional and physical needs of individuals with dementia.

    Checklist: Home Safety for the Elderly

    Checklist: Home Safety for the Elderly

    Our team at APEX has put together a room-by-room home safety checklist designed to minimize potential hazards and ensure the well-being of all inhabitants, particularly seniors or those with mobility or cognitive challenges. You can download this PDF checklist here.

    Entryway and Hallways

    • Adequate lighting: Install bright lighting to illuminate entryways and hallways, reducing the risk of falls.
    • Non-slip flooring: Use mats with non-slip backing at the entrance to prevent slipping, especially in wet conditions.
    • Clear pathways: Keep paths free of clutter and obstacles so movement is easy and safe.

    Living Room

    • Secure rugs: Ensure all rugs are secured with non-slip pads to prevent tripping.
    • Furniture arrangement: Arrange furniture to create clear walkways and avoid sharp corners.
    • Cord management: Keep electrical cords tucked away and out of walkways to prevent tripping.


    • Low-level storage: Store pots, pans, and kitchenware on lower shelves to eliminate the need for reaching or heavy lifting.
    • Automatic shut-off appliances: Utilize appliances with automatic shut-off features for added safety.
    • Fire extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher accessible and check it regularly to ensure it’s in working order.
    • Safety precautions: Store cleaning products and hazardous items separately from food to prevent contamination.
    • Monitor expiration dates: Regularly check expiration dates on canned and fresh food items to make sure they’re fresh and minimize the risk of foodborne illness.


    • Grab bars: Install grab bars by the toilet and in the tub/shower area to help with safe movement.
    • Medicine cabinet safety: Regularly review and safely dispose of expired medications. Use childproof caps if young ones visit.
    • Non-slip surfaces: Install rubber mats or non-stick decals in the bathtub or shower to improve traction and reduce the risk of slips and falls.
    • Temperature regulation: Set the shower water thermostat to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding, especially considering age-related sensory changes and decreased mobility.
    • Raised toilet seats: Install raised toilet seats to reduce the distance between the toilet and the user to minimize strain and enhance comfort during bathroom visits.


    • Bed height: Make sure the bed is at a height that makes it easy to get in and out safely.
    • Night lights: Place night lights along the path from the bedroom to the bathroom.
    • Emergency phone: Keep a phone or medical alert device within easy reach of the bed.
    • Bed railings: Install bed railings to prevent nighttime falls and provide additional support during transitions.


    • Sturdy railings: Check that handrails are secure and extend the full length of the staircase.
    • Good lighting: Ensure stairways are well-lit from top to bottom.
    • Step visibility: Mark the edges of steps with contrasting tape to make them more visible.

    Utility Areas (Laundry Room, Garage)

    • Detergent storage: Store detergents, harmful chemicals, and tools in a secure cabinet or on high shelves.
    • Appliance safety: Regularly clean lint filters in dryers and ensure proper ventilation to prevent fires.

    Outdoor Areas (Garden, Patio)

    • Secure railings: Ensure railings on decks and porches are sturdy and not spaced too far apart to prevent falls.
    • Smooth pathways: Maintain pathways to be even and free of cracks or elevation changes. Use non-slip surfaces where possible.
    • Adequate lighting: Install lighting along pathways and in outdoor seating areas for evening safety.

    General Home Safety

    • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Install detectors in key areas, testing them monthly and replacing batteries as needed.
    • Emergency plan: Have a clear emergency plan and make sure all household members are familiar with it.
    • Important documents: Store important documents (like emergency contacts, health information, and insurance policies) in a known, accessible location in case of emergencies.
    • Emergency exits: Keep clear of obstructions. Practice emergency evacuation plans regularly.
    • First aid kit: Keep well-stocked and within easy reach.
    • Locks and alarms: Doors and windows need sturdy locks. Consider an alarm system or a senior-friendly security system.
    • Check IDs: Caution against opening the door to strangers. Use peepholes or security cameras to verify visitors.

    Fall Prevention

    • Remove trip hazards: Secure rugs with non-slip pads, keep cords away from walking paths and declutter floors.
    • Lighting: Install bright, easily accessible lighting in all rooms, hallways, and staircases. Consider motion-sensor lights for nighttime.
    • Handrails and grab bars: Install in stairways, bathrooms, and along hallways.
    • Non-slip mats: Place in the bathtub, shower, and kitchen.

    Medication Management

    • Clearly labeled and organized: Use a pill organizer and label medications clearly with dosage times.
    • Out of reach: Keep medications away from children and pets.

    Electrical Safety

    • Check cords: Regularly inspect electrical cords for fraying and wear and don’t overload outlets.
    • GFCI outlets: Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets in bathrooms, kitchen, and other areas exposed to moisture.

    Final Thoughts

    Your parents deserve a safe and comfortable environment as they age. Ensuring the safety of aging parents at home is crucial for their independence and quality of life. By implementing practical safety measures and embracing supportive technologies, families can create a nurturing environment where seniors can live with dignity and confidence.

    If you find yourself needing additional support or assistance in caring for your older adult, know that you're not alone. APEX provides a range of home care services, tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. At APEX Health Services, we're here to guide you through every step of this journey to guarantee your loved ones receive the care and support they deserve.

    For more information on our services and how we can help make your home a safer place for seniors, contact us. Together, we can support your elderly family members on their journey to healthy and happy aging.

    Shelley Cartwright

    Mrs. Cartwright was hired in 2014 as a Business Development Consultant and named Hospice Administrator in 2015. In January 2023 Mrs. Cartwright was promoted to the company’s Chief Executive Officer position. During her tenure as the Hospice Administrator, APEX experienced remarkable growth and success in the hospice and palliative care industry, leading the company to the first accredited in Palliative care in the state of Illinois. With more than 30 years in leading healthcare organizations, Shelley is a proven leader in healthcare operations, organization, leadership, business development and market expansion.

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