Read tips on making sure your loved ones are safe.

Here are some guidelines when trying to ensure that your loved one’s home is safe as they age.

First, make sure to start with the following:

  •  Name of neighbor/friend/relative and phone number to contact in the case of an emergency and you are not able to get to your loved one’s home
  • Post your name and phone number next to every phone AND give this information to AT LEAST one neighbor/friend.
  • Name of a community member, social worker, other professional to contact in the case of an emergency and/or regular updates
  • Location of an extra key for your loved one’s home
  • Medic-Alert or LifeLine bracelet so your loved one can access help if he/she falls.

Here are some risk factors for falls:

  •  Over 75 years old
  • Living alone
  • Housebound
  • Use of cane/walker
  • Previous falls
  • Acute illness, chronic conditions, tremors (neurological disorders)
  • Multiple medications
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Difficulty sitting/standing from a chair/bed
  • Foot problems
  • Alcohol/drug use
  • Poor nutrition
  • Balance/equilibrium problems

Tips for the bathroom:

  • Install grab bars in the bathtub or shower and by the toilet
  • Use rubber mats in the bathtub or shower
  • Use a shower chair or bench
  • Take up floor mats when the bathtub or shower is not in use
  • Install a raised toilet seat
  • Remove tub and install a shower with a minimal step-up. Place a chair in shower stall
  • Use a telephone shower head
  • Use an occupational therapist or another appropriate professional to recommend the placement of all items to ensure optimal safety.

Tips for the kitchen:

  • Use automatic tea pot
  • Remove rugs without a non-stick service
  • Place most used pots and pans at waist level to minimize bending and stretching
  • Use a microwave to reduce use of oven/stove
  • Disconnect stove/oven fuses if there are memory impairments and it has been left turned on

Tips for outdoors:

  • Repair cracked sidewalks
  • Install handrails on stairs and steps or install a ramp
  • Trim shrubbery along the pathway to the home
  • Install adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways leading to doors

Tips for all living spaces:

  • Remove throw rugs, or tape down to secure
  • Secure carpet edges
  • Avoid visually distracting patterns on flooring/carpets; mark transitions from carpet to flooring with a different color paint/stripe
  • Remove low furniture and chairs that are too low to get up/down
  • Remove objects on the floor
  • Reduce clutter
  • Remove cords and wires on the floor


  • Install hand rails on both sides of staircases at elbow height; make sure an adult can wrap their hand completely around the handrail; attach them securely to walls or posts
  • Secure carpet on treads of stairs
  • Install light switches at the top/bottom of stairways
  • Do not reduce lighting in stairways
  • Do not place rugs at the top/bottom of stairs
  • Leave one hand free to hold the handrail when carrying objects
  • Check lighting for adequate illumination at night, especially in the pathway to the bathroom and on stairs
  • Avoid floor wax or use nonskid wax
  • Ensure that the telephone can be reached from the floor

General safety tips:

  • Wear shoes or slippers that fit properly and have a non-slip sole
  • Remove reading glasses when walking up/down stairs
  • Install a telephone on every level of the home, especially in the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom
  • Install a bathroom on each floor
  • Understand side-effects of medications, such as dizziness
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid carrying large or heavy objects, such as laundry baskets
  • Get up slowly from a sitting or laying position; sit on the side of the bed before rising
  • Wear clothing with an elastic waistband for easy removal

Consult with your physician or another health care professional to evaluate your risk factors and to recommend home adaptations that suit your individual needs.

Stephanie Erickson is a Geriatric Social Worker and the Director at the Erickson Resource Group