Photo of a handrail that can't be grasped (C)Daniel FriedmanBuilding & Home Safety Hazards & Accident Prevention for Elderly or Disabled People

  • ELDERLY & VETERANS HOME SAFETY - CONTENTS: Home safety & security checklist & home safety for older occupants. Home safety advice for the disabled and for veterans. Definition of Aging In Place systems and support for the elderly. Sources of home monitoring systems for the elderly. Sources of medication reminder and prescription refill services for the elderly. Sources of inspectors for home safety inspections. Sources of financing for home safety and accessibility improvements
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Home safety & security checklist & tips including advice for elderly or disabled occupants:

This article explains safety & security checklist items for everyone and includes special home safety concerns for the elderly and for disabled people, offering suggestions for safety inspections and for obtaining financial aid to perform necessary home safety or home accessibility improvements.

Our page top photo shows a too-fat hand railing that cannot be safely grasped.

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Home Safety Checklist & Financial Aid for the Elderly and for Disabled Veterans

Stair fall injury © Daniel FriedmanArticle Contents

The author's mother, at age 91, fell down carpeted stairs in her home in Boca Raton, Florida. Injuries from falls can be very serious, even fatal to more fragile elderly people.

At 2AM mom decided to carry an armload of clothes downstairs to her washing machine. Wearing open-heeled slippers with smooth soles, carrying an armload of laundry with both arms full, and stepping down stairs that were poorly designed with narrow treads and thick soft nosed carpeting, she lost a slipper and fell.

Mom's injuries included three broken ribs, an elbow so severely broken that an elbow replacement was required, and multiple lacerations to her head. After lying unconscious for some undetermined time Mom crawled to a telephone and asked a neighbor for help.

Major surgery, rehabilitation, round-the-clock nursing care, and a long, slow recovery were in store. (Photo above-left, modified for privacy, shows an elderly homeowner with her home health care aide after a stair fall injury).

The stairs and our long standing debate of their dangerous nature had been a recurrent debate between an independent-minded mother and son, to no avail. Obviously, being aware of their dangerous nature was not enough.

The author's neighbor, at age 85, made a wrong turn in an upstairs hallway after using the bathroom late at night. Dr. S. fell down stairs to a landing, narrowly-missing a fatal fall through a window located at the landing, and while he recovered, his injuries were so severe, both mental and physical, that he had difficulty walking and rarely left his home again until his death years later.

Falls like these are so severe that they can materially affect the length and quality of life for the elderly. Yet the hazards involved could be easily spotted by an experienced home inspector or home safety inspector.

Priority of Safety Concerns in Homes for the Elderly

While every unsafe condition at a building should be corrected as soon as possible after it is discovered (see Safety Inspections below), below we list some of the highest priority safety concerns that should be checked. This list is an OPINION based on field experience and literature review. CONTACT us to suggest changes or additions.

Also see

Special Home Safety Inspections for the Elderly or Disabled

In a home safety article "Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably" by Lesley Alderman and appearing in the New York Times (July 2009), Alderman provided some excellent home safety inspection and home safety improvement financing suggestions that we summarize here:

Special Safety Improvement Financial Aid & Insurance Protection for the Elderly or Disabled

Safety & Emergency Monitoring Systems for the Elderly or Disabled - Aging in Place

BeClose Systems provides a definition of "Aging in Place" as follows: [Quoting]

What is Aging in place?

Aging in place is the ability to live in one's own home for as long as confidently and comfortably possible, without having to uproot oneself or move into some form of an assisted living facility. For many aging seniors, this can mean the difference between enjoying their lives in dignity on their own terms, and feeling forced to a lifestyle change that can be upsetting and disorienting.

Aging in place has grown in popularity in recent years and is celebrated by the National Aging in Place Week and the National Aging in Place Council, which promote the positive outcomes of seniors having a choice in their care and living arrangements.

Aging in place often requires that families of aging seniors install design adjustments that can ease movement throughout the home, or provide assistance to aging seniors living alone.

BeClose is one such technological innovation. Its unique system of discreet, easy-to-install, wireless sensors are placed throughout the home and communicate with a base station unit which, in turn, transmits the information from those sensors to a secure online center at

Their caregivers can log on to monitor the activity and daily routines of their loved ones or choose to receive alerts to their email or mobile devices if irregular behavior patterns are detected.

This simple solution offers independence for seniors who are eager to remain in their homes, and peace of mind for caregivers who want to know about changes in the patterns of their loved ones, but are not living with them day in and out.

Monitoring Systems Support Aging-in-Place Programs for the Elderly

A wide variety of monitoring and safety notification systems for the elderly and disabled are offered to the public. And in August 2010 the New York Times reported on developing sensor and monitoring technologies that help children (or others) monitor aging parents (or others).

The Times article raised the important issue of privacy, quoting experts and suggesting that the decision for telemonitoring of anyone should be decided by the person being monitored, and should be negotiated as between co-equals. "If it’s not an agreement with the parent, it can be a very destructive thing."

For people who are comfortable being closely watched in their home, a family of sensors and telemonitoring devices, systems, and services can provide continuous and very detailed information such as indicators that the monitored person has:

Examples of elder-monitoring services listed by the Times article (and others we have found) include the following:
Warning: we have not evaluated these services for cost, effectiveness, courtesy, privacy issues, nor other features.

Watch out: the same Times article reports that even where intensive monitoring systems are installed, people rarely check in on the monitoring indicators' status more than once a day. OPINION-DF: systems that are able to detect that something is wrong and initiate an emergency notification to close-by responders may be valuable.

Security Checklist for Apartments & Homes

The following security checklist, adapted from information provided by Snyder & Wenner, P.C., a Phoenix medical malpractice & pesonal injury law firm cited below. This list can be used to improve apartment or home security.

Watch out: this security checklist is incomplete. Other hazards or security risks are occupant, building or site specific. We would appreciate hearing suggestions for corrections and additions to this data. CONTACT US

Apartment & Home Security Checklist

Security Item / Topic Area

Yes No Comments

Building Security

Common Areas such as mailroom and laundry room are well-lighted and monitored with video
Security cameras & monitoring system: there is a monitoring system for who enters and leaves the property.      
Security camera displays are monitored live      
Security monitoring system records for 24 hours or longer; recordings are archived;      

Keys: Landlord or building manager tightly controls all keys

Security Patrol: 24-hour security patrolling the property      
Security randomizes their patrol times      
Tenants: The property has a written policy on evicting tenants who engage in
criminal activity
Walkways, parking areas, hallways, stairwells, and elevators are properly
and sufficiently lighted, 24 hours a day

Building Doors & Windows: Security Measures

Front door has at least two locks      
Front door has deadbolt lock      
Front door includes a wide-angle peephole that has clear visualization of
Doors are solid hardwood or metal-clad      
Door glass is reinforced to prevent shattering (safety glass)      
Door alarms are properly connected and working for all exterior doors      
Emergency personnel can enter all building areas if needed, have access to keys, codes &c.      
Sliding glass door locks not easily forced by pulling on the door with force nor by lifting doors off tracks      
Sliding glass door has a rod in the track or a dropping deadbolt so it cannot be opened, and
has pins in the overhead frame so it cannot be lifted out
Windows at ground level or easily accessible on any level include working lock mechanism      
Window alarms are connected and working      
Any windows near a door are far enough away to prevent an intruder from
breaking the glass and reaching in to open door

Site Security (Outdoors)

Security cameras are properly installed to maintain sufficient visualization
of entire property at all times
Bushes, shrubs, and trees are properly trimmed and maintained to prevent a
criminal from hiding
All outdoor areas are sufficiently lit with proper lighting equipment      
Parking areas are close enough to residence to avoid long walks at night      
Bright lights properly installed outside each apartment so visitors can be
easily and clearly seen
Emergency kiosks are in proper working order      
Sheds, storage units, and garage doors are all locked with high security

Building Interior Safety


OPINION: Fundamental building safety for occupants should begin by being sure that the most common and most serious hazards have been addressed. For example slip and fall hazards, loose steps, improper railings or guardrails, or missing / non-functional smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are first priority safety features that should be attended in any home or building.

Addressing other serious hazards found at suburban and rural properties such as unsafe septic tank or cesspool covers are equally urgent.



SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety

SAFETY, FIRE Safety Checklist, CPSC



Stair & Railing Safety inspections are completed regularly and reports retained    



Electrical & Mechanical Systems safety inspections are completed regularly and reports retained      


Adapted and expanded from "Apartment Safety Checklist", Snyder & Wenner, P.C., Snyder & Wenner, P.C. 2200 East Camelback Road, Suite 213 Phoenix, AZ 85016 USA, Tel: 602224-0005, The company is a medical malpractice & personal injury law firm in Phoenix, AZ, USA, retrieved 2 April 2015, original source:

Continue reading at BALANCING SAFETY vs DESIRES for the elderly or disabled, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see NEST CAM INSTALLATION & USE - respectful use of a Nest cam® or Dropcam® or similar home security system may be helpful in some senior residences.

Suggested citation for this web page

ELDERLY & VETERANS HOME SAFETY at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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