Fall proofing your house: a checklist
To Reduce Fall Risk: Start at Home
For the older adult worried about falls, one of the most important tasks is to "fall-proof" your house. There are numerous services you can retain to come in and install grab bars, improve lighting, and do various other things to help make falls less likely.
But how do you know they have done the right things? And, if you are the friend or family of an older adult, how can you do a "check" to make sure the house of the person you care for is relatively well "fall-proofed"?
Lisa Brinkmann, Executive Director of the Marin Villages, has developed a "home assessment" check list, working with a group of older adults living in Marin. This fall prevention home assessment checklist is reprinted below.
You can use this checklist to see how well your house is fall proofed, and to guide decisions about what to improve when it is time to think about making a house more senior friendly.
Checklist for Fall-proofing your house
Think of this checklist as a room by room "cheat sheet" for thinking about how well a house has been made senior friendly. Most of the items in this check list are important for "fall-proofing" the home, thereby reducing fall risk. The "member" is the older adult whose house is being "assessed".
Exterior entrances and exits
- Are walk and drive surfaces even?
- Is there a curb cut?
- Are there handrails at the steps?
- Are the handrails in good condition (Left, Right)?
- Is there light in the driveway, walk, porch?
- Do door and window locks work?
Interior doors, stairs and halls
- Are doors wide enough for walker / wheelchairs?
- Are there railings along the stairway? (And are they in good condition?)
- Are there steps in the house? Is it easy to see the change in the steps? Is it easy to notice the first and last steps?
- Is there adequate lighting? (Right level)?
- Are there light switches at both ends of the stairs? Hallways?
- Is there clutter in the hallways or on the stairs?
- Is it easy to notice differences in the floor / carpet surface?
- Are basin and tub faucets, shower control and drain plugs manageable?
- Are hot water pipes covered?
- Is mirror height appropriate, sit and stand?
- Is member able to reach shelf above, below basin?
- Is member able to step in and out of the bath and shower?
- Is there a bath bench in tub or shower?
- Are there grab bars for shower / tub access?
- Is member able to easily reach toilet paper? Flush toilet? Come from sit to stand posture?
- Is space available for caregiver to assist?
- Is there good lighting of the room, and for tasks (eg makeup etc)?
- Is kitchen adequately lit?
- Is there task lighting?
- Can member comfortably reach / use sink and counter? Too high?
- Are shelves and storage in reach of member?
- Are "most used" items at level easily reached?
- Are under sink hot water pipes covered?
- Is there under-counter knee space?
- Is there a nearby surface to rest hot foods on when removed from oven?
- Are stove controls located in rear or front of stove?
Living, dining, bedroom
- Do chair, sofa, bed heights allow easy transition from sitting to standing?
- Do rugs have non-slip pad or rug tape?
- Do chairs have arm rests? (to support when standing)?
- Is member able to turn on light, radio, TV, place a phone call from bed, chair, and sofa?
- Is member able to hand-wash and hang clothes to dry?
- Is member able to access automatic washer / dryer?
- Are detergents and wash materials within easy reach?
Telephone and door
- Is phone jack location near bed, sofa, chair?
- Is member able to get phone, dial, hear caller?
- Is member able to identify visitors, hear doorbell?
- Is member able to reach and empty mailbox?
- Is member able to reach closet rods and hooks?
- Is member able to open bureau drawers?
- Is there a light inside the closet?
- Are opening mechanisms at 42 inches from floor?
- Are windows easy to lock? Easy to operate?
Electric outlet and controls
- Are there sufficient outlets?
- Are outlets at reachable height?
- Are outlets located in convenient areas on wall?
- Are there any extension cords hazards?
Heat, light, ventilation, security, carbon monoxide, water temperature control
- Are there smoke, CO detectors, and a fire extinguisher/
- Is the thermometer display easily readable?
- Can member access environmental controls?
- Is member able to open windows?
- Is member able to slide patio doors?
- Is member able to open drapes or curtains?
Curated Insights on Falls
This article is part of our series on Curated Insights on Falls. For our Curated Insights series, the Longevity Explorers team of Citizen Analysts is searching the Internet for the best available answers to what they see as "the critical questions on falls to which seniors seek answers."