Aging in place: Know what to look out for

Q. What are some things we should be assessing or considering during the home assessment?
Friday, January 23, 2015

A. Ask any senior facing the possibility of moving out of their family home and they will most likely tell you they prefer to age in place. That place has to be safe and functional. As their DME provider, your RTs, techs and delivery people are often on the front lines when they bring equipment to these senior’s homes. Knowing what to look for in the home and training your staff on simple things to be aware of could make the home safer for these seniors to remain living in. 

The following suggestions for what to look for are in no way intended to replace, if needed, a thorough home assessment completed by a professional. 

In all areas of the home, make sure there is adequate, easy-to-access lighting, including night lights in the bedroom and bathroom; carpets or rugs should lie flat or remove small throw rugs; doorways are wide enough to pass through with a walker or wheelchair; and there are no phone or electrical cords running under rugs or across open areas.

Other areas of the home have additional requirements.

Entrance to the home

Steps and walkways in good repair, with no crumbling edges or broken boards; space for a ramp if a wheelchair is needed in the future; secure railing that is easy to grasp with both hands; lights that illuminate a wide area of yard and walkway; peephole in the front door low enough for all residents to use.

Bathroom & kitchen

Toilet seat appropriate height; non-skid surfaces in tub or shower; and grab bar mounting areas different from towel bars. The kitchen should have a fire extinguisher; and storage space located between eye and knee level.

Kay Koch, OTR/L, ATP, is an independent consultant. Email her