If you’re looking to age in your own home—or, are helping your parents do so—determining whether your home is safe is a first priority. That can be easier said than done, however, when you don’t know what to anticipate for the future.
Likewise, you’re probably well aware of some challenges in your space. You might have steep stairs to the front door. Or, no main floor bathroom. But, what happens when you don’t even know what you need to be aware of?
To help you get started, take a look at these home safety questions.
You can use these questions by walking room to room and making a to-do list as you go. You might also consider looking at your space again after dark to see if poor lighting creates shadows or other challenges that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.
Stairs and Steps
- Are any steps broken or uneven?
- Do you have good lighting over the stairway? How about light switches at the top and bottom?
- Are there handrails on both sides of the stairway?
- Are the stairs themselves deep enough for your whole foot?
- Would a ramp be feasible if it became necessary? How about installing a chairlift?
Note any fall risks and do the following:
- Remove nonslip rugs or doormats
- Mark any changes in floor level with reflector tape
- Check if you have any loose or torn carpeting. You might also want to install new low-pile carpet, as that is easier for wheelchairs to navigate. Tile and other hard flooring sometimes pose a more significant fall risk.
- Put reflector tape in hallways and bedrooms to create a path to follow at night
- Make sure wires and electrical cords are out of the way
- Work to declutter your space
- Is there convenient parking available at all times (i.e. driveway or designated parking spot)?
- Is the parking convenient to the entrance of your home?
Windows & Doors
- How wide are the doorways and halls? Consider offsetting the door hinges to make room for a wheelchair, walker, or two people walking side by side.
- Are windows and doors easy to open and close?
- Are locks easy to turn and operate?
- Is there space to maneuver while opening and closing doors?
- Can you cook in the kitchen sitting down, and are the counters at the right height?
- Does the oven, fridge, dishwasher or other appliance open easily? Are they all accessible, and do you have a step stool with handles?
- Can you access all of your appliances easily?
- Are appliance controls, especially stove and oven, clearly marked?
- How easily can you get in and out of the tub or shower? Are there grab bars and a rubber-backed bathmat?
- Do you have a bath or shower seat?
- Do you have a hand-held shower head?
Though this list is not comprehensive, it is a good place to start. AARP also has a good Checklist for Home Safety.
Additionally, you can hire an occupational therapist, geriatric care manager, or other specialist to assess your home and make recommendations for modifications or remodeling projects. At Iona, we call our geriatric care management services, “Iona Care Management.” You can learn more about services offered and schedule an in-home, office, or phone consultation by calling (202) 895-9448.