Making homes safe for the elderly

For people over the age of 65, six out of ten accidents happen in or near their home. A few simple steps will enable you to help elderly relatives, neighbours or friends to live in a safer home.

For people over the age of 65, between 80–90% of injuries are due to a fall. Here are a few measures that can reduce their risk of falling, indoors and outdoors.

Remove trip hazards

It's so easy to trip over a threshold or loose rug. Remove any raised thresholds on rooms that are in use. Put an anti-slip backing under loose rugs, or remove the rugs altogether. Arrange the furniture to make it easier to move around the room. Avoid using extension cables, and tidy other loose items up off the floor.

Fit handrails

Many elderly people have balance problems. Handrails can be very helpful for them. Fit handrails at the entrance to the house, beside the shower or bathtub, and beside the toilet. A non-slip mat in the bath or shower is also a good idea. A stable stool in the shower can be helpful too.

Also make sure that there are handrails on all stairs. If a sturdy stepladder is easily accessible in the kitchen, this means the person won’t have to climb on a chair to get something out of a tall cupboard. Put the most frequently used objects within reach.

Safe shoes

Indoor shoes or slippers with a good sole and good support can make it safer to walk on polished floors. Make sure that spikes are easy to fit to outdoor shoes in the winter season. Make sure that sand or grit is handy beside the entrance door, so that it’s easy to sprinkle it around the entranceway.

Light things up

Make sure the home is well lit. If rooms are well lit, it’s easier to see where you're walking and what you're doing. Outdoors, it’s a good idea to fit sensor-activated lights that come on automatically when it gets dark. Make sure there's a torch handy, in case of a power cut.

Grants are available

Contact the person’s local authority if you think they need a grant for any conversion work, aids, etc. 

Elderly people are also particularly vulnerable to fire. How to improve fire safety for the elderly.

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