Recommended Reading
Fall icon Fall Alarms for the Elderly

An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

Recommended Product
Products 2up Square Trans 1 SureSafeGO
Your Alarm. Your Way. Be safe anywhere. Available in watch or pendant format with 24/7 or family monitoring. Plus fall detection & GPS tracker.

Home Safety Checklist: Creating an Age-Friendly Environment for Easy Movement & Independence

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

As people grow older, they often find themselves wondering whether it’s safe for them to keep living independently. These concerns aren’t baseless. Older people do often experience long-term health conditions like arthritis or oedema that can make daily tasks just a little bit more difficult or risky.

Ageing can also come with reduced vision, strength, mobility or balance, and these issues could raise the chances of a dangerous fall. And, of course, serious conditions like heart failure can make a senior feel anxious about being home alone without anyone to help.

But all these factors don’t mean that an older person always has to leave their own home to be safe. There are steps that seniors and their families can take to reduce the risk of falls and other accidents and allow older people to live at home for longer.

In this post, we’ll discuss ten major points to check off to help elderly people maintain their independence as they remain in their own homes.

1. Clear all tripping hazards on the floor

Most people are aware of how dangerous falls are to the elderly. The good news is that reducing the risk of falls starts with a very easy step – ensuring that the floor and paths through the home are completely cleared of tripping hazards and obstacles.

This means checking to make sure no rugs could cause an older person to trip because they’re wrinkled or torn. The floor surface needs to be completely free of bumps with nothing that an older person’s foot could catch or slip on.

Clutter and objects on the floor also need to be removed. That includes electrical cords, which could easily form a loop to snare a foot.

These principles don’t just apply to indoors, either. Check that any footpaths or routes an older person would take to get inside are also free of tripping hazards and stray objects.

2. Combat slippery floors and surfaces

If your floor is free of obstacles and bumps, you’re not done yet. You’ll also want to reduce an older person’s chance of slipping as much as possible.

A big focus here is the bathroom. It’s important to ensure that all mats used in the bathroom are non-slip ones. You can also get non-slip stickers to put on a bath or shower floor to reduce slipperiness.

As before, don’t forget about paths outdoors. A textured surface is better than a smooth one for an outdoor path because it provides more grip.

3. Get a personal alarm

As much as we try to prevent accidents, they can sometimes still happen. That’s why it’s essential that older people have a way to call for help fast in the case of a fall or another emergency.

A personal alarm in the form of a talking pendant or a wrist alarm is there to get an older person assistance right away, wherever they are – even if they can’t reach a phone. That helps avert a ‘long lie,’ which is the dangerous situation where an older person lies on the floor for a long time, unable to get help.

4. Ensure other alarms are installed and working properly

Smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can be small, fiddly or placed high on a ceiling or wall. That can make it difficult for older people to check on them.

But these types of alarms are also necessary to ensure a senior’s home is safe, so they need to be checked to ensure they are working as they should.

Older people might also want to invest in a security system to ease worries about burglary or similar problems.

5. Boost stair safety

Stairs are a danger point for the elderly. Falls on the stairs can be quite common.

That’s why an older person’s home needs to have a sturdy handrail, ideally on both sides of the stairs. The stair surface shouldn’t be slippery or have trip hazards like rugs. If an older person has trouble with vision, a strip of colour, like masking tape, on the edge of a step could make it more visible.

Lighting on stairs is also important. And, once again, these principles apply to outdoors as much as to indoors.

If an older person has taken all of these steps and is still finding stairs a little tricky, a stairlift might be the best answer.

6. Install grab bars where needed, especially in the bathroom

We’ve written a post previously about adapting bathrooms for the elderly. There’s a lot that can be done to help, and one major step is installing grab bars. These are useful in routine situations, like helping an older person sit down on a toilet and stand up again. They’re also useful as an emergency measure in the bath or shower, if an elderly person slips.

Remember that an older person who slips will likely reach out by instinct and grab whatever’s nearby. If they grab something not secure, like a towel rail or an unsecured cabinet, they could end up making their fall worse by pulling down objects to fall on top of them.

In short – grab bars make a huge difference.

7. Ensure there’s good lighting and visibility throughout the home

It’s common for an older person’s eyesight to weaken. And that can mean chances of a fall increase even if the older person is otherwise mobile and active.

You’ll want to make sure that all parts of the home are clearly lit when a senior is walking through them. Motion-detector lights and nightlights can help if an older person is walking around at night, such as to go to the toilet.

Ensure that there’s a lamp reachable from the bed, too, so that an older person is able to turn the light on before they begin walking around.

8. Put objects within easy reach

Any time when an older person has to stretch or strain to reach something, they’re at risk of losing their balance and toppling over. There’s also a chance that objects on a high shelf could end up falling down and hurting the older person.

That’s why an older person’s home, especially their kitchen, should get a revamp to ensure everything can be reached without straining.

That doesn’t mean remodelling the whole kitchen! It could just mean moving things from a higher spot to a more accessible one.

This point is also key to keep in mind in the bathroom. Ideally, seniors shouldn’t have to worry about stooping or stretching to reach toiletries while they’re in the bath or shower, as that raises the risk of a fall.

9. Ensure furniture is stable

An older person with decreased mobility, balance or strength is going to rely more on furniture for stability. For example, they might use the armrests of a chair to help them balance as they sit down.

Therefore, the furniture in an older person’s home needs to be stable and sturdy. It shouldn’t be able to slide or slip across a floor. And it might help if fixtures like bookcases are secured to a wall so that they don’t topple if an older person slips and grabs them accidentally.

For older people with obesity, it’s also important that all furniture can support their weight properly.

10. Ensure the older person can get in and out of chairs and bed safely

Physical transitions between positions can be difficult for older people. That can mean transitioning between sitting and standing, getting in and out of bed, or getting in and out of the shower.

As these are points where the risk of a fall increases, it’s worth thinking about what could make these moments safer.

As we’ve mentioned, grab bars already help in the bathroom. You can also buy similar rails that go by the side of a bed or chair to help an older person feel secure while moving to or from a piece of furniture.

When it comes to upholstered chairs in the living room, a riser chair can help to boost an older person from a sitting to standing position.

What SureSafe can do for older people living independently

For older people, confidence really matters. When an elderly person begins to doubt their ability to move around safely in their own home, a vicious cycle can begin. They move less because of their fear, which then means they lose strength and ability to move, which leads to them becoming even more fearful.

In fact, the traumatic experience of a ‘long lie’ – a period of one hour or more lying on the floor – is known to sometimes significantly affect an older person’s confidence and their mobility, sparking a downward spiral of reduced mobility and wellbeing.

How can you help avoid this outcome? Get a personal alarm. With an elderly personal alarm that lets its wearer call for help with just the press of a button, a senior can have peace of mind that they won’t have to suffer a ‘long lie.’ In fact, a fall detection alarm goes even further by calling for help all on its own if it detects a fall.

So, if you’re considering how to keep an older person safe while they’re living without carers in their home, why not give us a call about our alarms? We’re here to talk on 0808 189 1671. You can also use our live chat or request a call back.

Sure Safe Woman with Baby and Daughter Illustration Footer Left Sure Safe Man on Bicycle Illustration Footer Right

Not sure which personal alarm is right for you?

Talk to a friendly UK based advisor to help you make the right choice.

Request a Call
We're always here to help

SureSafe is the leading provider of personal alarms within the UK.

Call us on 0800 061 4501
Email us Send a message