Home Safety Tips for Older Adults

Help your older adult patients identify home safety recommendations included in this article. Fall prevention and medication safety tips are two key areas for older adults to consider modifying in their homes for added safety.


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Home Safety Tips for Older Adults

The population of older adults (aged 65+ years old) in the United States is one of the fastest-growing demographics in the nation.  Growth is expected to reach 80.8 million by 2040, which is twice as many older adults as there were in 20001.  Preparing your home for older adulthood is just as important as babyproofing a home before welcoming a newborn.  Here are some fall prevention and medication safety tips for you (or a caregiver) to consider to keep you safer at home.

Fall Prevention

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in four older adults fall annually. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in the elderly.  Implementing fall prevention recommendations can help prevent a fall.  Most falls in older adults occur at home in either the bedroom, bathroom or stairs6.  Here are some things to look out for in the home.


Is there a light near the bed that is easy to reach?  Is the path to the bed unobstructed and lit?  Are there loose throw rugs on the floor?  Is there clutter on the floor?


Consider installing grab bars inside and next to the tub/shower and next to the toilet. Are the floors slippery? Place a non-slip rubber mat on the floor.


Are they uneven or broken?  Is lighting sufficient, especially at the top and bottom of the stairs? Is there loose or torn carpet on the stairs?  Are the handrails sturdy and on both sides?

There are many free checklists available to help evaluate home safety, such as The Home Fall Prevention Checklist from the CDC. Your doctor can conduct a fall risk assessment during an office visit.  Some tools to screen for fall risk are the HOME FAST (Home Falls and Accident Screening Tool) or walking tests such as the "Get Up and Go" test.  If you score as being high risk for falls, your healthcare provider could refer you for services such as home health, therapy or a medication management program.  Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about a fall or have fallen recently.

Healthcare providers can stay up to date with the latest fall prevention recommendations via the CDC's STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) program, which focuses on screening patients for fall risk, assessing modifiable risk factors, and intervening to reduce risk by using effective clinical and community strategies.7

Medication Safety

Medication safety is important for everyone, but especially for aging adults.  As our bodies age, the way our bodies process medicine changes: our kidney and liver processing mechanisms change which can affect the way that medicine is broken down and disposed of from the body.  Something you may have taken for many years could suddenly be causing unwanted side effects.  It is important to have your doctor conduct a thorough review of all your medicines (including supplements and over-the-counter) to identify potentially harmful side effects and interactions.  Sometimes an individual may see multiple doctors for different conditions.  It is important to keep a list of all medicines so that each doctor can review all medications for interactions and not only consider the medicine that he/she is going to prescribe.

Your doctor can also help you determine how and when you should take your medicines.  For example, if you take several blood pressure pills, your doctor may advise against taking them together, which could cause your blood pressure to drop too low, increasing your risk for falls.  The FDA recommends the following four tips to help manage medications safely8:

  1. Take medicine as prescribed – with input from your Health Care Provider
  2. Store your medicines properly and check the expiration date
  3. Be aware of potential medication interactions and side effects
  4. Keep a medication list

Your pharmacist is also an important team member in ensuring medication safety.  If you have questions about a side effect or how to take a medicine, your pharmacist could assist.  This quick checklist9 was created by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality with medication reminders for appointments.

Aging Safely

Aging safely at home is achievable.  Being prepared will make it more feasible to stay independent longer.

Because falls are a major cause of injury in the older adult population, it is advisable to implement home safety tips to prevent falls.  Remember to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about falling or have fallen.  Your doctor and pharmacist are key members of your healthcare team that will be able to assist with medication safety.  Taking the time to be safe can help you age at home safely.


1Get the Facts on Older Americans: National Council on Aging, Inc.

2Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home: National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

3Keeping older adults safe at home: Nursing/LWW Journals/Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

4Aging in Place: Tips on Making Home Safe and Accessible: National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

5Older Adult Fall Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

6A Descriptive Analysis of Location of Older Adult Falls That Resulted in Emergency Department Visits in the United States, 2015: Sage journals/SAGE Publications

7STEADI—Older Adult Fall Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

84 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

9Patient Fact Sheet/Check List: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


Cristina Campbell, BSN, RN has 15 years of experience in healthcare. Her clinical experience includes: adult and pediatric inpatient cardiac care, care transition, care management, clinical transformation, and research. She is passionate about advocating for those who need help being heard.

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