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Improving Home Safety for Seriously Ill People Living at Home

Simple modifications to improve safety while living at home with a serious illness.
Simple home safety modifications when seriously ill people live at home including home lighting.

To improve home visibility:

  • Install new lights (such as motion-sensor flood lights) or increase lighting on exterior pathways, porches and doorways.
  • Increase home lighting in hallways, stairways and bathrooms with accessibility to light switches at entrances.
  • Install light switches that glow in the dark.
  • Switches and lamps should be easy to reach.
  • Install lighting over the sink, stove and other work areas.
  • Keep a magnifying glass for reading small print, where it may be needed (kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom).
  • Place automatic, light-sensor night lights in hallways and rooms.
  • Add lighting to all closets.
  • Install a thermostat that’s easy to read.
  • Use translucent light shades or frosted bulbs to reduce glare.
  • Use full-spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight.
  • Open window shades, blinds and curtains for natural light during the day.

To improve kitchen safety:

  • Add a counter-height stool to enable sitting while working at the kitchen countertop (if necessary, have cabinet shelves or drawers removed to allow room for your knees).
  • Be sure controls on the stove and oven are easy to see and reach.
  • Elevate the dishwasher to reduce bending.
  • Choose a side-by-side or drawer-style refrigerator.
  • Do not wear loose clothing around the stove.
  • Place heavier objects on the ground or low level shelves.
  • Never overload electrical outlets.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from the sink.
  • Smoke detectors should be present on each level of the home.

To more easily reach and move around:

  • Replace round doorknobs with easier-to-use lever-style door handles.
  • Place a chair or table near the entrance door to place packages when locking or unlocking the door.
  • Use non-slip handrails and non-skid step edges on stairways.
  • Use non-skid carpet runners to alleviate slippery floors and hold down carpet edges.
  • Lower rods and shelves in closets and cabinets. Consider pull-out or pull-down shelves, or drawers designed to close automatically.
  • Install grab bars on bathroom walls.
  • Provide an elevated toilet seat or install a safety frame for ease of use.
  • Install a walk-in or no-threshold shower, bath seat or bench and an adjustable, hand-held showerhead.
  • Place the washer, dryer, shelves and work surfaces at reachable heights and consider a front-loading washer.
  • Remove clutter and low-lying objects like coffee tables, which can trip a person and lead to bruising or other injuries.
  • Use the same safety precautions in both downstairs and upstairs to lessen the use of stairways.
  • Keep a cell phone within reach at all times or install a telephone in multiple rooms (including the bathroom).
  • Develop a family escape plan, in case of fire.


You May Also Be Interested In:
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When your loved one loses the ability to perform these activities, it’s time to discuss care options with a medical professional.
When Is It Time to Get Help in the Home?»
Warning signs that you or a loved one may need in-home assistance.
Tips for Caregiving at Home»
How you can provide better support to a loved one when you're a caregiver in home.

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