Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). An easy way to stay out of the emergency room is to prevent a fall. You know yourself and your routine better than anyone, so you’re the best person to create a personalized home safety checklist to reduce your risk for falls. Rather than a one-size-fits-all list, here’s a guide to creating your own personalized, comprehensive checklist and some resources to jump-start the process.
1. Gather Your Resources
Get a head start on your ultimate checklist by looking at two ready-made ones. Start with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Check for Safety publication. It offers an excellent overview of what you’re going to accomplish. Then, look over the Philips Lifeline checklist.
2. Personalize Your Background Information
Next, look for potential hazards that could lead to falls.
- For the next week, keep a journal of your activities, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed.
- Perform a “walk-through” of your home, inside and out, room by room. Make a note of any potentially hazardous situations. It’s easy to overlook safety hazards in familiar surroundings, so bring a friend or family member as an extra set of eyes when you perform your walk-through.
- Copy each entry from your activity list to your room list. You take a shower or bath in the bathroom, so copy that activity to the bathroom list.
The lists you’ll make will cross-reference your activities with hazards in each room in your home and in your yard. By looking at the same activities from different points of view, you can identify more risks.
3. Create Your Home Safety Checklist
Now that you’ve generated your lists, creating your checklist is the easy part of this exercise. Go through each room in the house, and for every risk for falls, devise a solution.
For example, if you wrote, “I tripped over a magazine on the floor in the living room,” you need to declutter the living room or move the magazine rack next to your favorite chair or couch. Another one might be, “I have to stand on a step stool to change light bulbs.” Your solution could be to purchase a light-changing gadget with a telescoping wand so that you never have to step on a stool or ladder when you’re home alone.
4. Share Your Checklist
Share your checklist on social media. Send the link to your friends and encourage them to use it as a guide to creating their own lists. Compare notes with your friends, because the more people who compare notes, the more comprehensive your lists will become. Review your checklist periodically and add to it as necessary.
Acting proactively by creating a home safety checklist not only minimizes the risk for falls, but also puts your family at ease and removes their worry. As an independent senior who intends to remain independent, you probably already know that putting your family at ease removes unnecessary stress from your life. So get started today to remove as many risks for falls as possible while you minimize your chances of visiting the emergency room.