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Maintain Your Independence | How to improve Home Safety for the Elderly

Maintaining your independence as an Elderly person can be very rewarding. There are some things you can do to ensure you can continue to live in your own home comfortably while keeping safe and reduce the chance of injuries.

The Canadian Safety Council published a great checklist along with suggestions on how to make improvements.

“The majority of seniors wish to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. However, many homes are not designed to meet their changing needs as they age.”


  • Install lever-type faucets, or a faucet with a single lever to control flow and temperature.
  • Install pull-out shelves under counter to enable you to work from a seated position.
  • Lower existing cupboards.
  • Install “D” type handles on cupboards or drawers.
  • Provide electrical outlets for small appliances in more convenient locations.
  • Install a smoke alarm outside, but close to, the kitchen.
  • Install a fire extinguisher near the kitchen exit.


  • Install shelves beside basin for storage.
  • Install a grab bar within easy reach.
  • Install additional light fixtures near the mirror or medicine cabinet.
  • Install non-slip flooring throughout the bathroom.
  • Install lever-type faucets or a faucet with a single lever to control flow.
  • Adjust the hot-water heater or install a device that will prevent the water from reaching too high a temperature.
  • Install a hand-held shower on adjustable rod or high-low mounting brackets.


  • Add a ramp to bypass existing steps.
  • Install light fixtures or floodlights to illuminate entrances, steps and walkways.
  • Add a grab bar or handle near steps or doorway.
  • Install a delayed-action door closer.
  • Install lever-type door handles.
  • Install easily accessible light switches or sensors to control outside lights.

Stairs and Hallways

  • Improve lighting in stairs.
  • Install two-way light switches at top and bottom of stairs.
  • Install or repair existing rails or install new rails.
  • Extend handrails beyond the top and bottom of steps.
  • Install “swing clear hinges” on doors to widen doorways.
  • Install handrails along corridor walls.


  • Use a night light to provide a lighted path from the bedroom to the bathroom.
  • Free the path from the bedroom to the bathroom from obstacles.
  • Relocate bedroom to main floor level.
  • If your area does not have 9-1-1 service, keep a list of important contacts near the telephone (police, fire, etc.) in large print.
  • Keep a flashlight nearby for emergencies.
  • Install a personal response system that would allow you to call for help if you needed it.

Basement and Laundry Area

  • Provide shelves or storage near appliances so that washing supplies can be conveniently located.
  • Consider a basement telephone to save climbing steps.

Closets and Storage Areas

  • Install bi-folding or accordion doors.
  • Add or lower shelves.
  • Install lights in closets.
  • Add or lower rods.

Maintaining Seniors’ Independence Through Home Adaptations

For a free copy of the Self-Assessment Guide call CMHC at 1 800 668 2642 ordownload the PDF from CMHC’s Web Site

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