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Home Safety Assessments for Seniors

Your mom may not be slipping on banana peels in her kitchen, but she could be slipping on that favorite rug by the sink! You may have already wondered about carpet safety, but have you ever wondered if there are other unsafe things in your home that you haven’t thought about? Or, better yet, what can YOU do to make your home safer?

Your best resource for completing a comprehensive home safety survey is an in-depth home assessment checklist. A “Home Assessment” is a detailed checklist used to assess the safety and accessibility of a home or office. Home improvements are suggested on the checklist to improve home accessibility and safety for seniors, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Some of the most important safety recommendations for a home include the kitchen, bathroom, and entryways. For Mom’s kitchen, a wall oven that has a convenient shelf just below the door prevents delectable but heavy casseroles from falling out. Stoves with level electric cooking surfaces ensure safe transfer between burners; front controls and downdraft functions eliminate heat; and a light that indicates when a burner is hot are essential features.

In the bathroom, there are many things that can be done to improve safety. Just to name a few, we would mention a folding seat installed in the shower; an adjustable shower head on a hose; and an anti-scald device to ensure the water never gets too hot for her while showering.

Entrance areas are also critical points to check for security issues. You may want to include a motion sensitive light in your entrances; a vestibule with no sliding floor; a low or no entry with cover; side lights on doors; and a surface to place packages while the door is being opened.

Non-slip, non-slip floor surfaces are critical in the safety-conscious, handicap accessible home. A non-slip material on your floor, such as wood or matte-finish laminate, textured vinyl, or soft-enamel ceramic tile will help prevent falls. Thresholds separating adjacent rooms should be close to the same level. The lowest pile carpet that becomes a floor is better than the taller, softer piles. Short-pile rugs and smooth flooring materials are also best for wheelchair maneuverability.

Finally, some accessibility items to consider if Mom is in a wheelchair or has a disability include a 30-by-48-inch clearance on appliances and a 60-inch diameter clear area to turn; strip with loops on drawers; and lever handles whenever possible. A good home assessment checklist will also include information on safe electrical, lighting, and safety items; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning; and stairs, lifts and elevators.

Consulting an in-depth home assessment checklist will help you answer many questions about home safety for people with disabilities, seniors, and people who want to “age instead.”

If you need help evaluating the safety of a home, you will find a directory of Certified On-Site Aging Specialists (CAPS) on the NAHB website. Your CAPS specialist will schedule a home consultation to observe and evaluate your current living arrangement and help you create a safer and more accessible home for you or a loved one.

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