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Home safety for older people: the comprehensive guide

6 min read |

If you have an elderly loved one who lives alone, it might be time to make some home safety improvements.

Taking precautions to make their home safer and more accessible can make a huge difference when it comes to independent living.

And with the right adaptations, your loved one can continue living in the home they love for longer.

This article will cover essential home safety adaptations you should consider for your elderly loved one’s house.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Taking the time to improve home safety in your loved one’s house can mean they feel comfortable and safe there. 
  • This has positive effects in later life, as they can maintain their independence living in the home they love. 
  • Accident prevention is key, especially when it comes to falls, but other injuries and events can also be prevented. 
  • There are also ways to improve home safety, through adaptive products and design choices.
Safe at home

What are the basics of home safety for older people?

If your loved one wants to continue living at home, it’s never too early to start thinking about home safety. 

Of course, the adaptations you make may depend on whether they have existing care needs or be determined by any concerns they have. 

For example, assessing any particularly hazardous areas such as steep stairs or slippery floors. 

Or finding solutions to anything that is becoming a bit harder to do in older age, especially as a result of mobility issues.

Why is home safety important?

Having good home safety features or protocols in place make a huge difference to the life of your loved one.

While they may not be that noticeable day to day, their utility will be obvious in the event of an emergency. 

And though, ideally, they won’t need to be used, having the peace of mind that they’re in place is beneficial.

Especially to boost the sense of confidence in family members who may be anxious for them to live alone. 

Stay independent at home

Continuing to live in a cherished home can be hugely important to older people who want to maintain their independence. 

Not only for the fond memories and personal taste, but for the sense of familiarity and comfort that retirement properties lack. 

In later life, many people have grown used to a certain way of doing things and like to have the freedom to do so. 

And disrupting this can have negative impacts on family relationships, so it’s preferable to support their independent routine.

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

Prevent accidents

We all know that accidents happen from time to time and accept that we’ll be able to bounce back. 

But this isn’t always the case, especially for older people. 

Whether they have existing health conditions that make some actions or activities more risky to perform, accidents don’t discriminate. 

But there is so much that can be done to prevent accidents and make the home a safer place to live.

Home safety

How can I protect my loved one against falls at home?

Falls are an unfortunately common occurrence in the older population, with half of people over 80 falling at least once a year. 

While there are a number of factors that can cause a fall, such as health conditions, some falls are preventable.

Making adaptations to the home can decrease the likelihood of slips and trips while moving around. 

As well as investing in technology that can help in the event of a fall, such as a fall detector or alarm for elderly living alone.

Home safety for people with dementia

For families of someone living with dementia, there could be a number of areas of concern when it comes to home safety. 

Home safety and security

Security features for people with dementia are aimed at combating dementia symptoms such as forgetting and confusion. 

If your loved one is prone to wandering and getting lost, having a dementia tracker keyring can alert you to any unusual activity. 

While if they are likely to forget to lock up, a smart locking system can automatically lock the door. 

The code can also be shared with carers who can let themselves in rather than have to ring the doorbell.

Worried about your loved one having a fall?

How to prevent falls in older people

Kitchen safety

Over time, kitchens can become ill-suited to your loved one’s needs and cause difficulties that increase the risk of an accident.

If your loved one is struggling to use the kitchen, there are adaptations that can be made to improve safety and usability.

For example, purchasing a safety kettle for dementia can reduce the risk of accidents with hot water. 

Or using adaptive products such as cutlery can prevent discomfort and support independent living. 

Fire and gas safety

For those living with dementia, using the kitchen can be an added challenge due to the presence of fire and gas. 

And it can be easy to forget about a pan on the hob, a running tap or food in the oven. 

If left unattended, this could cause a serious accident such as personal injury or damage to the home.

These accidents can be disruptive and have a negative effect on confidence in their ability to live independently.

My loved one is resistant to home safety recommendations, what can I do?

Accepting that they can’t do everything they used to do is a big deal for older people. 

Especially if this is accompanied by fear of losing their independence and relying on family or carers for support. 

It’s understandable that there may be some resistance to making changes at home or when asking to monitor them more. 

But how to get around this without causing arguments or misunderstandings? 

Explain how you feel and offer solutions

It’s normal to be worried about an elderly parent or family member, especially if they are living alone or far away from support. 

If your fears are promoted by an event, explain that you’re worried about them not being able to get help in an emergency. 

And that you want to set up a system to reduce unnecessary risks and make their home more suited to independent living.

Do your research into ways that you can improve home safety and suggest a selection for your loved one to choose from.

dementia safety kettle

Promote communication and trust

Some older people may be confused by technology or wary of being ‘spied on’ by their families. 

They won’t necessarily be familiar with the way it all works, so giving demonstrations of it in action can be useful. 

For example, show how a fall alarm detects the sudden movement of a fall or a heat alarm senses overheating caused by fire. 

As it highlights the efficiency of the technology, and takes the burden off them having to understand it while reaping the benefits. 

Give them time

It may take a while for your loved one to agree to making home safety changes in their home, so don’t rush them. 

And if they want to think it was their idea – let them think so without fuss – as this still counts as a win.

Grab rails prevent falls

If you found this article useful then you might like to check out these guides on:

 

how does a safety kettle help

Find quality local home care now

If you’re wondering where to start looking for care, you’ve come to the right place. 

Start your search for care by entering a few details about your loved one.

And we’ll match you with top quality home care providers in their local area. 

Just click below.