When assessing whether a home is well-suited to aging in place, there are several major areas to consider, and it's never too early to think about this issue. This checklist provides a helpful first step, though we recommend bringing in a senior home care professional for a thorough audit. Springhill at Home is one agency in the Erie, Pa., region offering home safety audits.
- Is the neighborhood safe in terms of walking on errands and home security?
- Do all exterior doors have deadbolts? Is there a heavy-duty storm door in place?
- Do all windows lock?
- Can someone easily and safely enter and exit the house?
Inside the home, it’s very important to assess pathways. The less you have to maneuver around items, the easier it is to get around, and you won’t hit things if you do lose your balance and fall. Another tip: if mobility and balance is already an issue, purchase an alert pendant system or be sure to keep a cell phone on you in the house or out. That way, if a fall occurs, help can be summoned.
- Are there throw rugs? These are a top cause of falls.
- Are there end tables, plants, chairs, newspapers or other obstacles in pathways?
- Is there a glass-topped coffee table or one with sharp edges in front of the primary sitting area?
- Is there a bathroom on the first floor?
- Is there a bedroom or room that could be converted for that purpose on the first floor?
- Are there nightlights in main pathways?
- Does the bathroom have (or need) grab bars to ease getting into the shower?
- Does getting into the shower require stepping into a bathtub?
- Does the shower floor have non-slip grips?
- Are cooking utensils and food easy to reach without a step stool?
- Is safely operating a stove becoming an issue? (This is particularly evident with memory loss.)
- Have important phone numbers in a drawer or on a refrigerator right by the phone for yourself and for emergency responders.
- Check smoke detector batteries and have flashlights beside the bed and near the primary sitting area in case of a power outage.
- Is there a back-up power source if someone uses oxygen and a power outage occurs?
- Is there an emergency plan for how you would evacuate in a storm or fire? Does a friend or family member know this plan, too? If someone has limited mobility, contact the fire department so they are prepared to evacuate the person in an emergency situation.
For more tips and articles on topics related to aging, please visit The Asbury Perspective blog.
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