How to make homes safer for seniors

Older adults who continue to live independently at home will need a safe space in which to live. Making the home safe is essential for preventing injuries.

Each year, around 7,000 elderly people die in accidents at home, while millions more sustain serious injuries there. Falls are the most common cause of injury. Drowning in the tub and being burned by the stove or by hot water are also significant risks.

A home that is optimized for safety can allow older adults to continue to live independently for as long as possible. Visiting and taking the house tour is a great start for identifying potential home hazards. People with medical issues, such as poor vision or rheumatoid arthritis, can benefit from a home assessment by an occupational therapist (O.T.).

Many safety improvements are very simple and affordable. For example, removing any unsecured rugs and maintaining good lighting throughout the house and yard can prevent falls, as can maintaining a clutter-free home.

Other common safety improvements include the installation of stairway lifts for indoor stairs and threshold ramps and railings for the approach to the house. It may be necessary to install bars and a specially designed shower or bathtub.

Although health insurance should cover home assessment by an O.T., it will not usually cover home upgrades. However, people with long-term care policies may be able to get coverage for home modifications.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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