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As seniors age, declines in health can make it more challenging to continue living at home safely and securely. For those who do want to remain at home, or to age in place, here is a comprehensive, room-by-room home modifications checklist to help make that possible. While some home updates require that you own the home, plenty of other improvements can be accomplished while you’re renting.
Floor plan or layout
The floor plans that are best suited to aging in place are:
- On the ground floor: All key rooms should be on the ground level, including the bedroom, a full bathroom, and kitchen (and garage, if there is one). Make sure you can enter and exit the home without needing to navigate steps. This enables you to remain securely on one level as you go about your daily life.
- Open and spacious: The home should have an open floor plan. High-traffic areas, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and hallways, should be spacious and open enough to accommodate larger mobility aids, such as rollators or walkers.
If you home doesn’t meet these needs, you could change how you use certain rooms, rearrange furniture, or embark on a remodeling project.
Hallways and walkways
One of the simplest and most crucial updates to make to your home is to clear out all clutter and debris from hallways and other frequently used walkways. Pay special attention to cleaning up the path between the bed and the bathroom in case you get up in the middle of the night when the lighting is dim.
Stairs and steps
Stairs are among the riskiest parts of the home for elderly. First, ensure that they are clear and secure:
- Clean up all clutter and debris, as called out above for hallways
- Repair damaged steps and uneven surfaces, including any raised nail heads
- Securely attach to the steps either low-pile carpet or non-slip floor treads that are in good condition
Then make sure the edges are clearly visible to avoid bumping and tripping:
- For floors, clearly mark the edge of each step by using paint or tape in a contrasting color, or even glow-in-the-dark tape
- If using carpeting, avoid using heavy patterns, which can make it hard to see the edge of each step
Finally, install supportive equipment:
- Set up handrails on both sides of the staircase
- For any entrances into the home that have just one or two steps, consider installing a small ramp or adding a half-step riser to make each step shallower
- Consider installing a stair walker, stair lift, platform or porch lift, or home elevator, if needed
- If the home has a second floor, consider getting an inflatable emergency evacuation slide that can be deployed from a window
Doorways can be another challenging part of your home to navigate. Throughout your entire home, make sure doors are easily opened and doorways are easily crossed through.
- Thresholds: Avoid having speed bumps or raised, hard door thresholds in between rooms. At a minimum, ensure they are easy to see by using contrasting colors, or by covering them up with a compressible rubber threshold.
- Knobs: Round door knobs can be slippery and difficult to turn. Replace these with door levers. Alternatively, cover your door knobs with door grips, which effectively add levers without needing installation.
- Locks: Install bathroom and bedroom door locks that can be unlocked from the outside, just in case someone needs to enter to help you with a medical emergency while you are locked inside.
- Doorways: To accommodate wheelchairs, install doorways at least 36” wide.
Entrances and exits
For the doorways that serve as entrances and exits for your home, there are extra steps you can take to increase your safety:
- Keys: Gripping and turning a key to unlock a door may be tricky. Consider installing a smart lock where you simply need to hold up a key fob to unlock the door.
- Avoid getting locked out: Some doors automatically lock you out when you close them. Smart locks with numeric codes can provide you with a backup entry method when you’ve forgotten your key.
- Caregiver visits: Smart locks also are helpful if you want caregivers to be able to enter your home on their own. Rather than giving the caregiver a manual key, which could be duplicated, you can give them a numeric code or key fob. You can easily reset these later when desired.
- Ensure your door is locked: With smart locks or smart contact sensors, you can double-check that your door is locked, or even be alerted if your door is not locked, while you are away from home.
- Doorbell: Choose a doorbell with a loud tone that you can hear easily throughout your home.
- See visitors: Install a peephole in each door so that you can see who is outside without opening the door. Avoid relying on chain locks, which let you open the door slightly, but can be broken easily. An alternative to a peephole is a smart doorbell, which not only provides a video camera, but also enables two-way conversations while the door is closed.
- Deadbolts: Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
- Address: Ensure that your home address signage is clear and visible from the street, even at night, for any emergency responders who may be searching for your home.
For greater comfort, place a bench or chair inside your main entrance so you can sit down while putting shoes on and taking them off. Place a table just outside your door so that you can put down heavy packages while opening the door. Another benefit is that a delivery person can put packages there at a height that’s easier for you to pick up.
The bathroom is another potentially dangerous area of the home, given all the activity around water and electricity. Most of the recommended home modifications are meant to provide stability, reduce falls, and facilitate transferring from one position to another safely.
To make it easier to sit down and stand up from the toilet, you can install supportive equipment:
- Grab bars and handles: Install these securely to the bathroom walls. Avoid using suction grab bars, which can fall off, and towel bars, which are not designed to support an adult’s weight.
- Toilet frames and safety rails: These flank the toilet on both sides, so they provide even more support as you hold onto them to lower and raise yourself.
Another approach is to modify the toilet so that the seat is higher, which reduces the distance and effort needed to sit down and stand up. A few different types of products can do this:
- Raised toilet seat: Also called an elevated toilet seat, this is a higher seat that sits on top of the toilet bowl, and is used instead of the existing seat.
- Toilet seat riser: This is an add-on that is inserted and installed between the toilet bowl and the existing seat in order to raise the existing seat.
- Toilet riser: This is an add-on that is installed underneath the toilet itself to lift the entire fixture.
- Tall toilet: The most significant change would be to replace the entire toilet with a tall or comfort height toilet.
If the toilet will be shared with other family members who do not want a higher toilet, you may want to get a portable raised toilet seat that is designed for travelers and can be easily set up and removed without tools or assembly.
For even more assistance, install these automated products:
- Toilet seat lift: This lowers you down to the toilet and lifts you back up when done. Some are powered by electricity or batteries, while others are mechanical.
- Automatic toilets: If you have issues with bending or leaning over, consider installing an automatic flushing toilet so you don’t have to reach for the lever or button. An automatic cleaning toilet, such as a bidet, also can be helpful if you have flexibility issues.
One final step is to make sure the toilet paper holder is installed in a location that is easily accessible while you’re sitting on the toilet. Avoid top-heavy toilet paper holders that are easily knocked over.
Lifting your legs to step in and out of a wet bathtub can be a difficult, risky transfer. To manage this more safely, consider setting up the following:
- Grab bars and handles: As with grab bars by toilets, these bars should be secured to the bathtub wall, which will come in especially handy when the bathtub is wet.
- Tub transfer bench: This bench straddles the side of the bathtub so that half of the bench is inside the tub and half of it is outside. As a result, you can enter the tub safely by sitting down from outside the tub and sliding over, rather than standing up and stepping into the tub one leg at a time. If you use a transfer bench, you may want to get a shower curtain that has slits designed to accommodate it, while still keeping water from splashing outside the tub.
- Swiveling, sliding bathtub transfer chair or bench: This is similar to a tub transfer bench except it has a chair that swivels and slides back and forth where the bench would be. This may make it easier for you to rotate and slide over the tub, without added friction. Additionally, the chair often has a seat belt to provide more security during the transfer process.
- Bathtub chair: While the main purpose of a bathtub seat, chair, or bench is to let you sit while bathing, you may be able to use it as transfer aid as well. If the chair is wide enough to reach the edge of the tub, then sit down on it from outside the tub, and rotate your body until both legs are inside the tub.
- Bathtub board: This is a simple board that sits across and on top of the sides of the bathtub. To use it as a transfer device, sit down on it from outside the tub, rotate, and then slide in.
- Walk-in tub: The most significant change would be to install a walk-in tub, which has a door built into the side of the tub. As a result, you can enter and exit just by walking, rather than by lifting your legs high over the bathtub wall.
The next set of devices help lower you into the tub and lift you back up into a regular sitting position:
- Inflatable bath cushion: Put the inflated battery-powered cushion in your tub. Then sit on it and wait for it to deflate to lower you into the tub. When you’re done bathing, reposition yourself to sit on the cushion and re-inflate it so it can raise you back up.
- Bathtub lift chair: This chair lowers you into the tub, and then reclines the seat back. You can remain on the chair as you bathe. After you’re done, it will return the seat to the regular upright position and lift you back up. Some are powered through manual cranking, while others are battery-powered. Also, some chairs are portable, while others are mounted to the wall, floor, or ceiling.
Make the following home modifications so you can take a shower more safely:
- Grab bars and handles: Similar to what was mentioned above for bathtubs and toilets, make sure to install these securely to the shower wall.
- Shower seat: If you have enough space, consider setting up a shower seat, chair, or bench. This gives you greater stability because you can sit instead of stand and maneuver about on a wet floor. You also will want to install an adjustable, removable handheld shower head so you can more easily direct the water while you’re sitting.
- Walk-in or roll-in, curbless shower: Entering and exiting a shower is easier than doing the same with a bathtub. If you’ll need to accommodate wheelchairs, install a roll-in, curbless shower. At the edge of the shower, install a compressible threshold that will prevent water from flowing out, yet allow wheels to roll over it easily.
Choose a shallow sink so you can easily reach the bottom of it without bending over far. Pay special attention to its faucet:
- Accessible: Make sure the faucet is easily accessible. Ideally, it will be positioned on the side or else motion-activated. If you need to access the sink while sitting down, such as in a wheelchair, check that you are able to reach the faucet from that position.
- Handle: Avoid round faucet knobs, which can be hard to grasp, especially with wet hands. Update all faucets to use levers or touch- or motion-based sensors instead.
If you will need to access the vanity from a sitting position, such as a wheelchair, then make sure it is accessible.
- Install it at a lower height and remove the cabinet underneath. Alternatively, choose an adjustable height or motorized sink or vanity.
- If you need a mirror, choose one that tilts or has a telescoping arm, or install it at a lower height.
Also ensure the surface is clearly visible to avoid bumping and tripping:
- Clearly mark the vanity edges and corners by using paint or tape in a contrasting color
- Avoid choosing vanity materials where the surface is so shiny and glossy that it causes glare
For additional safety, install grab bars or handles along or near the vanity so you have something to hold onto in case you slip.
Implement the kitchen modifications below so you can reach things easily, without straining to bend over or reach up.
- Refrigerator: A side-by-side fridge/freezer combination with long handles will be the most accessible. Look for one that has clear shelves inside so that you can easily see what’s on different shelves without bending.
- Dishwasher: Installing an elevated dishwasher will reduce the amount of bending needed when loading and unloading dishes.
- Microwave: Avoid overhead microwaves. Place it on the kitchen counter.
- Stovetop or cooktop: Make sure the controls are at the front, not in the back, for easy and safe access.
- Oven: Consider an elevated wall oven so you don’t need to bend down to reach it. To avoid having to bend over the open door when putting food in and taking it out, get an oven with a side-opening door or French doors, rather than one that opens out to the front. A few ovens offer a slide-and-hide door, where the door still opens out to the front, but can then be pushed inwards and hidden below the oven while you access the food. Also remember to select a self-cleaning oven.
Ensure that all appliance controls are easy to see (and hear) in order to avoid making any potentially hazardous mistakes:
- Choose appliances with large, clear displays and loud alerts, including microwaves, toasters, etc.
- Ensure that stovetop controls are easy to see, preferably with a large numerical display and colored or lighted indicators when it’s on. Alternatively, put red nail polish or non-flammable tape on each stove knob so you can easily see from a distance if it’s in the proper OFF position.
Prevent fires in the kitchen by taking the following steps:
- Make sure that appliances are not on longer than they’re meant to be. Purchase auto-shutoff kitchen appliances, toasters, coffee makers, etc.
- Use stove knob locks to prevent accidentally turning on the stove when bumping into the controls.
- Purchase a lightweight fire extinguisher that you are capable of operating, and keep it within reach of the stovetop and oven. If this is too heavy, get a fire blanket that you can throw on top of small fires in their early stages. There are also fire extinguishing aerosol sprays that are easy to use.
Similar to the recommendations for bathroom sinks, avoid deep kitchen sinks. Install a shallow one so you don’t have to bend over to reach pots, dishes, and utensils sitting on the bottom.
Also install a faucet that is easy to operate:
- Accessible: Make sure the faucet is easily accessible. Ideally, it will be positioned on the side or else motion-activated. If you need to access the sink while sitting down, such as in a wheelchair, check that you are able to reach the faucet from that position.
- Handle: Avoid round faucet knobs, which can be hard to grasp, especially with wet hands. Update all faucets to use levers or touch- or motion-based sensors.
- Filling pots: If you often fill pots and other large containers with water, install a flexible pull-down faucet. This lets you fill the pot directly on the countertop without having to lift up a heavy container of water from the bottom of the sink. You also can install a pot filler faucet above your stovetop or cooktop so you don’t need to carry a heavy pot of water over from the counter.
If you need to access the countertop from a sitting position, such as a wheelchair, then make sure it is at an accessible height. Install it at a lower height and remove the cabinets, shelves, and drawers underneath. Alternatively, choose an adjustable height or motorized countertop or sink.
To avoid bumping and tripping against the countertop, ensure the surfaces are clearly visible:
- Avoid choosing countertop materials where the surface is so shiny and glossy that it causes glare, such as in the kitchen. (Also avoid materials that are high-maintenance, such as granite.)
- Clearly mark the edge of countertops, corners by using paint or tape in a contrasting color.
- For additional safety, install grab bars or handles along the countertops so you have something to hold onto in case you slip.
To make your kitchen even more senior-friendly, equip it with appropriate kitchen gadgets and eating and drinking aids:
- Use a jar opener that is designed to work with minimal effort.
- Protect your hands by avoiding using dull knives, which are more likely to slip unintentionally, and by wearing cut-resistant kitchen gloves.
- If dexterity is an issue, stock your kitchen with adaptive dishes, cups, and utensils, which are designed to be easier to grip, unbreakable, and spill- and slip-resistant.
This article, Age In Place: Home Modifications Checklist For Seniors, has been written and published by Senior Wing.
Climbing in and out of bed can be particularly challenging for seniors, as it involves transferring across many different positions.
Some seniors have difficulty shifting from lying down to sitting up. One approach is to set up assistive equipment that you can pull on; another approach is to prop up your back, which shortens the distance between the two positions.
- Bed loops: These are short strap loops that attach to the side of your bed. You can pull on them to bring yourself up.
- Bed trapeze bar: This device provides a handle that dangles above your bed, which you can grasp to pull yourself up. It may be mounted to the ceiling or to a standalone frame.
- Bed ladder assist or strap: Resembling a rope ladder, this device attaches to the foot or side of your bed frame so that you can grasp each successive rung of the ladder as you pull yourself up.
- Mattress wedge: Some of these are inserted between the mattress and the box spring, while others are mattress toppers. Either way, they add a slight incline and lift to your upper body and may make it easier to get out of bed.
- Foam bed wedge pillow or adjustable bed backrest: Typically meant for other purposes, such as to provide upper body support or relief, these lift up your upper body substantially and can make it easier to get into a sitting position – if you’re willing to sleep in this position in the first place.
- Automated pillow lift: With this device, which is placed on top of a regular bed, you can recline fully flat. Then at the push of a button, it raises your entire upper body. Some devices raise your upper body partially, while others lift you to a full sitting position.
- Electric hospital bed or adjustable bed: These have a built-in lift. You can adjust the bed height and raise the upper body by pushing a button. There is even an adjustable bed that can raise your upper body while rotating 90 degrees and lowering your legs; as a result, you end up in a standard sitting position, ready to stand up and get out of bed.
If you are looking for help getting out of bed from a sitting position and have the upper body strength, consider installing these devices, which give you something to hold on to:
- Bed assist handle or rail: This also may be called a bed grab bar, bed lever, or bed handle. Similar to a chair assist, it is a frame that slips in between the mattress and the box spring and provides something stable you can grasp as you get in and out of bed.
- Transfer poles: Floor-to-ceiling transfer, security, safety, or lifting poles give you a long bar to hold onto as you gradually change positions. Some of these poles have a curve grab bar attached to provide even more support. These can be useful not only by your bed, but also in the bathroom or by your recliner.
One issue may be the distance between the floor and the top of the mattress. Having a bed that is too high or too low can be problematic. Some devices that can help:
- Bed risers: Also called furniture risers, these raise the entire bed by a few inches. If you can shift from lying down on the bed to sitting up on the edge of your bed, but you are having difficulty standing up, then having a higher bed can make that easier.
- Mattress topper: This also can be used to raise the top of your bed.
- Bed step stools: If you are having difficulty getting into a bed because it’s too high, or getting out of bed and navigating the distance to the ground, then using step stools can help break down that distance into manageable chunks.
The final device type is a bed lift or bed hoist, which includes sling lifts, ceiling lifts, and Hoyer lifts. These provide full support by handling the entire process of getting into and out of bed, and many require caregiver operation.
Also protect yourself from potential falls with these devices:
- Bed safety rails: These are designed to prevent you from rolling or falling out of bed.
- Fall safety mats: Put these beside your bed to cushion your fall in case you do roll out.
To make it easier to lower yourself into a sofa or recliner, as well as to stand up after sitting in them, set up sit-to-stand assistive devices:
- Transfer poles: Transfer or security poles give you a floor-to-ceiling bar to hold onto as you change positions. Some of these poles have a curve grab bar attached to provide even more support.
- Stand assist: This frame slips under your sofa cushion and provides two handles on either side of your body so you can push yourself up to a standing position.
- Chair assist or grab bar frame: This is a portable, freestanding frame that you can push and lean on when getting in and out of a chair.
- Seat or chair lift: Also called a lifting seat, this is a portable seat cushion with a lifting mechanism underneath it to help push you up from a sitting to standing position.
- Recliner lift chair: These recliners have a built-in power lift mechanism that raises the entire recliner and tilts it forward to guide you to a standing position.
- Sit to stand lift: This device helps you pull your body up from a sitting to a standing position. It is more sophisticated than the ones listed above and must be operated by a caregiver.
Another solution is to raise the furniture or chair slightly by putting it on risers, which reduces the distance between the standing and sitting positions.
Update your cabinets, pantries, shelves, and closets so that most items are at an accessible height.
- Height: Ideally, install all storage at a height that is within easy reach, so you don’t have to reach up too high or bend down too low.
- Pull-down storage: If you need to make use of storage space that is higher up, consider installing pull-down shelves or pull-down closet rods.
- Stepstool: Another solution for reaching higher shelves is to use a stepstool. To reduce the risk of tripping over the stepstool, consider installing steps that are built into the wall or cabinet and can be pulled out when needed and easily stashed away.
Next, make it easier to access the items inside your storage units by updating your cabinet hardware and organizers:
- Knobs: To make it easier to open doors and drawers, replace round knobs with D-shaped pulls that provide ample space for grasping. Another solution is to install push-to-open cabinet doors and drawers.
- Organizers: To avoid having to reach deep into your cabinets, install rotating trays, also known as Lazy Susans, in corner cabinets. Also install pull-out organizers, drawers, and shelves in your cabinets.
- Placement: Put the most frequently used items in the most accessible locations, preferably in open shelves so you don’t even have to open and close doors. Put heavier, bulkier items on lower shelves.
Doing laundry will be easier if you make the following choices:
- Select a front-loading, rather than top-loading, washer so that you don’t have to lean deep into the washing basin to retrieve clothes.
- If possible, choose side-by-side and not vertically stacked washer-dryers. Also install both appliances on a raised platform, so that neither one requires bending down or reaching up to be used.
- Choose appliances with large, easy-to-read displays.
- If you do have a multi-level home, then having a laundry chute can be helpful.
- If your laundry room has a sink, see the guidelines mentioned earlier under the bathroom sink and kitchen sink sections. Choose a shallower sink that has a faucet that is motion-activated or has a lever within close reach, installed at a lower height.
If you use a larger mobility device, especially a wheelchair, your garage will need enough space around the vehicle for you to maneuver freely. The ceiling and garage door also need to be high enough to provide clearance if you have a specialized vehicle for transporting your wheelchair.
Remember to update your outdoor living spaces for safe living as well. Keep outside walkways, driveways, and steps clear of all clutter, debris, mold, moss, wet leaves, snow, and ice. Use non-skid paint if you will be painting your deck, porch, or steps.
Choose plants and external landscaping that are easier to maintain. Keep them trimmed so that you can see clearly through your doors and windows and prevent giving burglars a place to hide.
Throughout your home, choose flooring that is non-slip, smooth, in good condition, and appropriate for any types of mobility devices that you may use.
- Rolling mobility devices: To accommodate wheelchairs and rollators, install smooth flooring.
- Carpeting: If you don’t require hard floors for rolling mobility aids, then carpeting is more forgiving in case of falls. Make sure to replace any old, shaggy carpeting. Use low-pile, woven carpet or short nap carpet that is in good condition. Ensure the carpeting is securely attached to the floor.
- Slippery floors: Always clean up spills immediately. Avoid marble flooring, painted floors, and wax polish. Other than carpeting, more secure flooring materials to use are cork, non-slip vinyl, wood, bamboo, linoleum, laminate, rubber, and non-slip tile – though the last one may be hard to stand on for a long time.
- Damaged floors: Repair uneven surfaces or tiles, cracks, holes, loose bricks or pavers, broken steps, and other types of damaged flooring.
- Rugs: Avoid area rugs, throw rugs, and scatter rugs, which can slip easily. Otherwise, at least use non-slip grips, double-sided rug tape, or rubber backings, especially in the bathroom and other wet areas.
- Bathroom: Because bathroom floors get wet, use a non-skid, rubber suction mat or non-slip floor strips, treads, or decals in the shower or bathtub. Also use a non-slip, rubber-backed bathroom mat or floor rug.
To avoid bumping and tripping, also ensure floor surfaces are clearly visible:
- Clearly mark the edge of floor transitions by using tape or paint in a contrasting color from adjacent rooms and walls
- Avoid using flooring where the surface is so shiny and glossy that it causes glare
You’ll want to be able to use your windows freely so you can get enough natural light, sunshine, and fresh air. Make sure window blind strings are easy to reach, or consider installing automated window shades, blinds, and curtains for even easier access. Also fix or replace any hard-to-open windows.
Having plentiful and accessible lighting throughout your home is crucial for avoiding accidents.
Ensure that you have lighting in all key areas:
- Outside: Ensure you have sufficient lighting for exterior pathways, front porches, back decks, doorways, and address signs. Install automatic floodlights that remain on while the sun is down and that are triggered by motion.
- Set up abundant lighting, including nightlights, for all key areas of the home, such as stairs, hallways, entrances, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Make sure there is a light that you can turn on before you get out of bed; another option is to install a motion-activated under-the-bed light that will turn on the moment you step out of bed.
- Place task or track lighting wherever you may be doing work, including the kitchen, sink, and stove.
- Install lighting in small closed-in areas, such as the bathroom shower, bathtub, closets, and underneath kitchen cabinets.
- Put flashlights on every floor and in key rooms in case of power outage.
- Make sure at least a few of your light fixtures are placed at a height you can reach yourself. That way, you can ensure you have some light even if light bulbs need to be replaced or motion-activated sensors are malfunctioning.
Install light switches that are conveniently located and activated:
- Placement: Place light switches at both the entrances and exits of key rooms, stairs, and hallways so you won’t need to walk through parts of your home in the dark. Install them at a convenient height where you don’t need to bend or reach to access them.
- Illumination: Install illuminated light switches and outlet wall plates so you can find them easily in the dark. Or use a light dimmer and just keep a light on low all the time.
- Switches: Standard toggle switches are small and harder to grasp; install large rocker switches, which are easier to push. If you have standard lamps with small knobs and buttons, add a lamp switch turner on top, which gives you more leverage to grip the knobs. Alternatively, get touch-control lamps.
- Automatic activation: For even easier access, set up automatic motion-activated or voice-activated lights. You may want to install automated, motion-triggered or voice-triggered light switches as well so that you don’t need to let go of your walker and reach out to turn the lights on and off. With smart plugs, you can even put your lights on an automated, random schedule to make it look like someone is home at all times.
Use light bulbs that provide full illumination, yet need fewer replacements:
- Increase brightness: For optimal clarity, use full spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight and have the highest allowed wattage for the light fixture. Using light bulbs that exceed the proper ratings for your light fixtures can lead to fires. To get a lot of brightness and power for minimal energy use, you can use LED lights.
- Reduce bulb changes: Use longer-lasting light bulbs, which will reduce the frequency with which you need to replace them. Some light fixtures will likely be out of reach, in which case you may need to get a bulb-changing kit or have a caregiver change the bulb for you.
While electricity helps you live more safely, it also can pose a danger if not managed properly. Follow the checklist below to make sure your home is safe:
- Sockets: Install these at a convenient height where you don’t need to bend or reach to access them.
- Cords: Make sure all cords are out of the way, against a wall, and either taped down or held in place with cord covers.
- Overloading: Ensure that your appliances do not overload your outlets. Don’t plug more than two appliances into any given outlet.
- Water: Avoid electric shocks by keeping electrical appliances away from water. Never use them near a filled sink or tub, do not connect them to an outlet if the cord passes over water, and keep them unplugged when not in use.
- Auto-shutoffs: For backup protection, consider using smart plugs with timers to help avoid having select appliances left on for too long.
Heating and cooling
Manage the temperature in your home so that you can avoid heatstroke and hyperthermia.
- Ensure the thermostat is easily accessible and easy to read
- Set up auto-shutoff space heaters and bathroom heat lamps in colder locales
- If central air conditioning is not available, install a window unit
To reduce the risk of burns:
- Reduce the default water temperature to 120F.
- Install anti-scald devices or temperature-activated controls on the faucets in your kitchen and bathroom sink and in the shower and bathtub. Insulate any hot pipes that may be exposed under the sink.
In case of emergency, you’ll want to have a way of contacting first-responders, family, and friends quickly:
- Landline phones: Ensure these are accessible from the most used location in each bedroom, each bathroom, and the kitchen. To avoid tripping, make sure all phone cords are out of the way, against a wall, and either taped down or held in place with cord covers. Choose phones with large buttons, if helpful.
- Cell phone: Keep this on you at all times or wear a smartwatch that connects to your phone.
- Smart home voice assistants: These can let you make calls using just your voice, without having to be within reach of your phone. This may be especially helpful if you fall or have another medical emergency.
Make sure the phone ringers are loud enough so that you can hear from any room when someone is calling you. Alternatively, use a device that can flash the lights on and off for incoming calls.
Stay safe by setting up devices that will monitor your home for any problems so you can take action quickly. These include:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: Install these in the kitchen, bedrooms, hallway, and garage. Check regularly that the batteries are working. If your hearing has declined, double-check that you can hear the alarms from every room of your home, especially the bedroom and kitchen. Alternatively, use smart devices that can flash your lights on and off, send alerts to your phone or smartwatch, and/or shake your bed.
- Home security video cameras: These can keep an eye on the entrances to your home while you’re sleeping or monitor your entire home while you’re away.
- Smart water-leak sensors: Catch any water problems early – not only to prevent damage, but also to avoid slipping and falling on wet floors.