Jun 25

Senior Safety: Checklist for Conducting a Home Safety Audit

When an aging parent or family member in the Seattle area lives alone, their adult children and caregivers often find themselves worrying about safety. This can be especially true if the senior lives in an older home. Many just weren’t built with the needs of older adults in mind. Bathrooms can become dangerous places that present a high risk for falls. Too many stairs or a laundry room located in the basement can also be cause for concern. Senior safety can be improved with some simple precautions around the home.

Knowing how to identify problem areas of the home can help you determine if there are modifications you might be able to make to keep your senior loved one safer or if a move to a senior living community may be a more prudent way to go. This room-by-room checklist can help you assess your senior loved one’s risks.

Home Safety Checklist

Exterior:

  • Exterior stairs in good condition including hand rails and lighting
  • Exterior doors have strong, secure locks
  • Walkways between home and garage are in good repair
  • Windows all have working locks
  • Yard has motion activated lighting
  • Garage has an electric door opener with automatic lighting
  • Mail and newspaper can be easily accessed
  • Arrangements are in place for help with yard care
  • A safe plan is in place for trash removal
  • Optional: Home security systems is in place to deter break-ins

Interior:

  • Working smoke alarms are installed on each floor
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are in place on every floor including within 10 feet of the entrance to bedrooms
  • Telephones are located in every room or a cordless phone is available on every level of the home
  • Interior stairways are in good shape with light switches at the top and bottom of stairways and sturdy handrails
  • Walkways are free from clutter
  • Hallways and most commonly used pathways have night lights
  • No throw rugs are present in the home
  • The furnace/air conditioning system is inspected twice each year
  • All thresholds between rooms are level and in good shape
  • Carpeting is free from tears and bumps that could create a tripping hazard
  • Hot water tank is set to a safe temperature
  • Space heaters are used according to safety instructions

Primary Bathroom:

  • Grab bars are installed near the shower and toilet
  • Towel racks that might be improperly used as grab bars are removed
  • A fall free tub or shower is in place
  • Non-slip strips or mat is in place in the shower
  • Raised toilet seat is installed, if required
  • Frequently used items in the bathroom are stored within easy reach
  • Night light or motion activated light is installed
  • Emergency call system or pendant is available

Master Bedroom: 

  • Grab bar is installed near the bed
  • Senior isn’t using furniture – especially lightweight nightstands – to pull themselves in or out of bed
  • Telephone is available on a bedside table
  • Bedside light is easy to access
  • Flashlight is stored on bedside table
  • Pathways around the bed are clear of furniture and free from clutter

Living Area:

  • Throw rugs are removed
  • Extension cords, if utilized, don’t create a fall hazard
  • Comfortable chair that is easy to safely get in and out of is in place
  • Pathways to and from living area are clear
  • Carpeting or floor is in good shape and doesn’t present a fall risk
  • Flashlight is stored near senior’s chair or favorite spot on the sofa

Kitchen:

  • Commonly used items are within easy reach
  • Knobs are located on the front of the stove and don’t require senior to reach over burners
  • No curtains or towels are within range of burners
  • A fire extinguisher is present and senior knows how to use it
  • Smoke detector is in place

Other: 

  • Senior has non-skid shoes and slippers to wear indoors and outdoors
  • A medication management system is in place, if necessary
  • Senior can safely evacuate the home in the event of a fire