Elderly Fall Prevention Checklist
Are throw rugs/carpets secured to the floor?
Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape or a rug pad to secure the rug to the floor. For small tears, a little glue or carpet staples can fix the problem.
Is the room decluttered from clothing, magazines, newspaper, or other items?
It might be a good time to work with the older adult and clean out closets and drawers of items he or she no longer wears or uses.
Does the older adult have easy access to a telephone or cellphone, especially at night?
Consider a cordless phone. If the older adult is not agreeable to having a phone in the room, or he or she doesn’t own a cell phone, suggest an emergency alert system.
Is there adequate lighting?
Nightlights are a good option for dark rooms at night. If the older adult likes to read in the room at night or turns on the light in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, make sure the bulb wattage is high enough (within allowable limits) to properly illuminate the room. Rope lighting is another good option for hallways that connect the bathroom and bedroom.
Are electrical cords neatly fixed to keep pathways clear?
Use extension cords to run electrical cords behind furnishings. Rearrange furniture that must be plugged into areas near an outlet. Consider a power strip where several cords can be plugged into one long power source.
Does the furniture provide proper support?
Make sure bedroom chairs are the proper height, so the older adult's feet touch the floor. Chairs should have sturdy legs and arms.
Is the bed too high or low?
The bed is too high when the legs do not touch the floor when sitting on the edge of the bed. Remove the bed frame or use a lower profile mattress or box springs.
The bed is too low if the older adult's knees are above the hips when sitting on the bed. Bed risers under bed legs can raise the height.
Are grab bars available near the tub, shower, and toilet?
Loose towel and curtain rods could be a sign that an older adult is grabbing on to these for support. Adding grab bars near shower/tub units and the toilet can help prevent falls and other accidents.
Are there enough bath mats to keep the floor dry?
Add a rubber mat or adhesive non-stick decals to the bottom of a tub.
Is the bathtub the correct height?
If the bathtub is too high, such as a claw foot tub or antique tub, add a tub transfer bench.
Is the toilet the correct height?
Add a raised toilet seat for stools that are too low. Contact a plumber about installing a lower profile stool if your older adult’s toilet is too high.
Are medications stored properly (not too high or too low for the older adult to reach)?
Make sure medications are stored in cabinets that are easy to reach. If the cabinet is too high, an older adult might have problems reaching into it. If it is too low, the older adult could have trouble bending down to find the medication. Consider a medication organizer for pills that can be set on a countertop or shelf.
Can the bath water be too hot or cold?
Set the water thermostat to 120 degrees F so the water in the shower and sink faucet does not exceed dangerous or uncomfortable levels. Another good idea is to make sure the hot- and cold-water faucets are clearly labeled. Painting parts of them red or blue will help distinguish them.
Is there enough space to move around the furniture and no clutter around?
Organization is the key to preventing too much clutter. It might be a good time to work with your older adult to downsize and eliminate bigger pieces of furniture. Add shelving.
Is furniture stable?
Sit in chairs to see if arms or legs are wobbly. Try gluing legs or armrests. Or, if more extensive repairs are needed, locate a furniture repair service representative. If the chair is too low, add a cushion or pillow on the seat to raise the height.
Can the older adult reach the light switch to turn it off or on?
Add a “clapper” light switch to control lamps or check out other remote control switching options. Sometimes, rearranging furniture can allow quick access to a wall switch or lamps.
Is there adequate lighting?
Increase wattage to allowable limits in lamps and lights. Add additional lamps, or contact an electrician about installing overhead lights.
Are throw rugs and electrical cords neatly secured?
Remove throw rugs. If carpet is necessary, installing low-pile rug can be better than shag. Having carpet stretched or removed can eliminate bumps.
Is the floor even?
For uneven floors, consult a contractor or your local home improvement store.
Can the room temperature be too hot or cold?
Install lock-in switches on thermostats to control the temperature and help prevent furnace fires.
Is there a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in place?
Install new smoke detector batteries once a year. Pick a date and make sure all of the smoke detector batteries in the home
are replaced. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing carbon monoxide batteries and alarms according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Is there adequate light at night?
Night lights are an ideal solution for dark hallways. Search online to find a variety of lights, including LED options that are just right for an older adult. Rope lighting is another good option for hallways that connect the bathroom and bedroom.
Are handrails sturdy and functional?
Consider installing circular rails because they are easier to grip completely compared to other rails.
Are the stairs evenly built/dimensionally uniform?
Consider talking to a construction contractor for possible renovation options.