How to Make a Home Safe for Your Elderly Parents

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If you are caring for a loved one, or you are an individual who is aging at home, it is important to know how to make sure your home is a safe place to live. By making your or your loved one’s living space safe, it allows individuals to move around freely without worrying about falling or injuring themselves.

Proofing a home for an individual should include these topics:

  1. Proofing to prevent falls
  2. Decluttering the space
  3. Using senior friendly furniture
  4. Use of assistive devices as needed
  5. Compensating for memory problems
  6. Address fire safety
  7. Address home security
  8. Make modifications to the home as needed
  9. Use methods and tools to help with daily tasks and ensure they are safe

When you plan for these issues ahead of time, you can make sure that you or your loved one is safe, which makes everyone’s lives easier.

elderly home safety

Here are some ways you can make sure that your family member is safe when you are caring for them in your home, this information also applies to caregivers and seniors living at home.

Making Sure Your Home is Fall Proof

Individuals commonly get injured or die by falling at home. Therefore, it is highly important to make your home fall proof. This may look different for each family as it depends on the type of disability their family member may have.

These are some reasons seniors may fall:

  • The type and amount of medicine they take
  • Visual impairment
  • Suffering from a disease (stroke, Parkinson’s etc.)
  • Cognitive ability

How you fall proof your home will depend on the factors mentioned above as well as any other individual factors that have to do with your family member.

There are three standard issues that you should deal with when it comes to proofing your home and you can get most of these products at your local hardware store:

  1. Adapt the environment via making changes to the home (changing from a step-in to a walk-in shower, make adaptive equipment available)
  2. Installing safety equipment as needed such as stair threads, motion sensors, anti-slip mats, grab bars etc.
  3. Knowing the medications your loved one takes and its effects


Working with Your Parents to Accept Help

Usually, adult children are the ones that take care of elderly parents. But there is always an element of change for the parents and the children. This means that the parents may need to give up some control, as they may be losing their cognitive ability and that may be difficult. It is crucial that the adult children and seniors work together to adapt to the change and let the adult children help with taking care of them.

Decluttering the Space

Here are ways you can declutter a home to help make it safe for a senior:

  • Discuss the declutter – Let them know what you are doing, why it is important, and make sure to include them in the process.
  • Do a little bit at a time – Your parent or a loved one may have an attachment to their items so they may react negatively to these items being removed from their home. Do a little bit at a time, including them in the process and creating a schedule so that you can stick to it. Do it once a week, once every other week, or whatever schedule works for you.
  • Put it away in storage as opposed to getting rid of it – These changes may bring major stress to your senior parent so it may be beneficial to store the items away as opposed to getting rid of them. If after a year these items have not been used, then speak to your parent about getting rid of them. They still may want to keep them but at least you both know they are not necessary items.
  • Put away the cords – Remove all cords, including extension cords and electrical cords from walkways throughout the home. They should be put away and wrapped so that they cannot be tripped on via feet, canes, walkers etc.
  • Think about furniture and the space – Always look at all the furniture pieces and if they work for that room. It is important for the elderly to have room to move around, which should include pathways that are at least 34-36 inches wide with no clutter. This may require you to remove furniture or re-arrange it to make the space safer.
  • Pet toys – Make sure that all dog or cat toys have a designated spot and are put away when the pets are not playing with them as they can be a tripping hazard.
  • Storage – Use all the storage you have or build in more if needed by adding shelves, ottomans with built-in storage, furniture with drawers etc.
  • Have a designated spot for hobbies – If the senior has a hobby, make sure that you have a spot where they can keep all their hobby supplies. This helps keeps the items within easy reach.
  • Have a spot for mail – Designate a spot for mail and keep a garbage and a shredder near it. You can also use a mail sorter so that the senior can go through the mail sitting down instead of standing, and they can sort it whatever way they wish to do so.
  • Everyday items should be easily reachable – All the items that the senior uses every day should be within easy reach. Make room for those items and keep them close to the senior.
  • Fridges and pantries – All the items used daily should be within easy reach when it comes to fridges, pantries, cabinets, and shelves.
  • Shower organization – Make sure to keep the shower clutter free. It can be easily organized with a shower organizer to keep the area clean and tidy, and the items needed within reach.
  • Make a plan – Observe how the senior functions daily so that you have a starting point and know where items should go to make it easier for them to get to them.

The idea behind decluttering is to make to home safe for the senior to function. Any items that can be a hazard or an obstacle in daily life should be put away. All pathways should be clear and safe to walk through. It is also extremely important to make sure that the senior does not overreach or under reach for items as they can lose balance and fall. This should be taken into consideration when decluttering the home.

Senior Friendly Furniture

This pertains to furniture that makes daily lives of seniors easy and manageable as it gives them independence to do daily tasks. If you must change furniture to ensure the safety of your loved one, make sure to do it slowly so they can get used to the change a little bit at a time.

The most crucial part to remember is that there should be at least 34–36-inch-wide pathway around the furniture to prevent them from falling and ensure safe movement.

Senior Friendly Furniture
Senior Friendly Furniture


Safety tips you can implement include:

  • Shelves & Storage Units: Make sure to mount shelves and any other types of storage shelving to the wall to ensure it is not a hazard for the senior.
  • Lights: Bright lights are important to ensure the safety of a senior when they move around the home. You can use plug-in lights and battery powered ones. Any area of the home that is used frequently should be well lit, especially if it is used at night. Motion lights are also a great choice to be used in hallways, garages, and any other areas that need extra lighting.
  • Non-Slip Floors: You should make sure your floors are not slippery to prevent the senior from falling. You can do so by applying clear strips to the current floors and steps.
  • Lift Chairs: If you have a senior who has a tough time getting up from a sitting position, you should get a lift chair. You can also look into grab bars that you can install in areas where the senior might need help standing up.
  • Bed with the Right Height: A senior’s bed should be somewhere between 20 and 23 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. However, that may not work for all seniors. If the current bed is too high or too low for them, you may need to purchase a new one. In the case that they use a wheelchair, you want the height to be almost the same as the seat of the wheelchair. If you’ve had an issue with the senior falling out of bed, you should look for a bed that is as low to the ground as possible. Also, you should get equipment that helps them out of bed, or you can get a bed with an adjustable base.
  • Avoid furniture with sharp corners: Try to avoid having furniture with sharp corners or glass. You should get round tables that are not a hazard for them.

Use of Assistive Devices to Fall Proof a Senior Home

  • Grab Bars: These can be used throughout the home (kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms etc.) and can prevent falls.
  • Bed Rails, Wedge Pillows, Bed Alarms: There are various bed rails available on the market that can be added to their existing bed. You should look for those that will work best for your situation. Wedge pillows are an amazing tool to support the senior’s body and they prevent them from falling out of bed. Bed alarms can help keep a senior safe. There are many on the market, most are easy to use, and some are even wireless.
  • Toilet Seats: To prevent falls, you should have your senior use raised toilet seats, shower chairs, and even transfer benches. If they are at a high risk of falling, they can use a bedside commode to help them.
  • Shower & Tub Benches: You should choose the shower chair or bench based on your loved one’s need and the layout of the bathroom they will be used.  These have been around for a long time and there are many types available.
  • Medical Alert System: You should have an emergency response system set-up for your senior loved one as they can save their life.  There are many available today. For example, Google Home and Alexa let you call 911 but you need an external device. All of them have different features so you should do your research before deciding on one.

Compensating for Memory Problems

Memory issues can become bothersome for the senior once they get to an advanced age and affect:

  • Taking medication
  • Leaving the stove on
  • Leaving windows & doors open
  • Getting lost while driving
  • Losing keys, eyeglasses etc.
Medication organizer
Medication organizer


Some things you can do for a senior with memory issues:

  • Don’t try to correct them, it causes frustration
  • Keep all activities to a schedule
  • Use notes & signs in the home.
  • Take advantage of Alexa and Google to help if you can
  • Use pill dispensers, GPS products, etc.

Fire Safety for Seniors

This is the equipment you should have to prevent a fire in the home:

    • Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Stove alarms
    • Gas stove safety knobs

Seniors need to make sure that they know how to adjust the temperature of their home when it is hot and cold out.

Home Security for Your Senior

Speak with your senior loved one and come to an agreement to ensure that they have a security system they know how to operate to keep them safe.

Modifications to the Home

The modifications you will be able to do to a home depend on how it is built, its layout, and how it will be used.

These are some of the modifications that are usually done to make homes more senior friendly:

  • Making Doorways wider to ensure a wheelchair can fit through it. Generally, doorways should be a minimum of 36 inches wide.
  • Installation of indoor and outdoor ramps so that the senior can move around easier if they are in a wheelchair.
  • Installation of non-slip floors to prevent falls
  • The most common changes in the bathroom are changes to the shower, replacing the toilet seat, adding a shower bench, changing the shower head to a handheld one, and adding grab bars.
bathroom for the disabled or elderly people
Interior of bathroom for the disabled or elderly people.


Making Daily Tasks Easier and Safer

To senior proof a home, you need to think about how to make all daily tasks easier and safer for them. Some of these include:

  • Making a two-story house more manageable by adding stair lifts
  • Using grab bars, lighting, etc.
  • Asking for help when needed regarding home cleaning, handymen etc.
  • Downsizing to a smaller home if needed
  • Using products that have caps that are easy to open for all items such as laundry detergent, pill boxes, etc.

Home Care from Assisting Hands

If you or a senior loved one is living at home, taking the steps outlined in this guide will help make the home safer and bring you peace of mind. However, even with a home that is senior friendly, your loved ones may need additional help.

Assisting Hands Homecare

If you need help with in-home care for your senior loved one, make sure to reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care Richmond at  (804) 500-9787. We can help you with our senior home care in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield, Virginia.


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