Your mom may not be slipping on banana peels in her kitchen — but she might be slipping on that favorite throw rug next to the sink! You may already question the safety of the throw rug, but have you ever wondered if there are other unsafe things in her home you haven’t thought about? Or, better yet, what can YOU do to make her home safer?
Your best resource for completing a comprehensive safety survey of the home is an in-depth home assessment checklist. An “In-Home Assessment” is a detailed checklist used to evaluate the safety and accessibility of a home or office. Home improvements are suggested in the checklist to enhance home accessibility and safety for seniors, elderly and people with disabilities.
Some of the more important safety recommendations for a home involve the kitchen, bathroom and entryways. For mom’s kitchen, a wall oven that has a convenient shelf right underneath the door prevents delicious, but heavy, casseroles from being dropped. Stoves with level electric cook tops ensure safe transferring between burners; front controls and downdraft features pull heat away; and a light indicating when a burner is hot, are all essential features.
In the bathroom, there are lots of things that can be done to improve safety. Just to name a few, we would mention a fold-down seat installed in the shower; an adjustable shower head on a hose; and an anti-scald device to insure the water will never get too hot for her while she is showering.
The entry areas are also critical spots to review for safety issues. You may want to include a motion sensitive light at the entrances; a foyer with no slip flooring; a low or no step entry with a cover; side lights at doors; and a surface for placing packages on while opening the door.
Slip resistant and non-glossy flooring surfaces are critical in the safety conscious handicap accessible home. A slip-resistant material on your floor, such as matte-finished wood or laminate, textured vinyl or a soft-glazed ceramic tile will help prevent falls. Thresholds separating adjacent rooms should be close to the same level. Lower-pile carpet that transitions into flooring is better than higher, softer piles. Low-pile carpeting and smooth flooring materials are also best for wheelchair maneuverability.
Finally, a few accessibility items to consider if mom is in a wheelchair or experiencing a disability include a 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances, and a 60 inch diameter clear area for turning; pulls with loops on drawers; and levered handles wherever possible. A good in-home assessment checklist will also include information about safe electrical, lighting, and security items; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and stairways, lifts and elevators.
Consulting an in-depth home assessment checklist will help you answer many questions about home safety for people with disabilities, seniors and individuals wishing to “age in place”.
If you need assistance evaluating the safety of a home, you will find a directory of certified aging in place (CAPS) specialists on the NAHB website. Your CAPS specialist will schedule an in-home consultation to observe and evaluate your current living arrangement, and assist you in creating a safer and more accessible home for you or a loved one.