How to Make Your Home Safe for a Senior Housemate

In the world of homesharing, seniors make great housemates! They're typically quiet, clean and have a stable income. For seniors, a homesharing arrangement has many benefits too. Homesharing can be a more affordable option than renting from a typical condo or apartment building, and having a housemate provides the social interaction and security that many seniors seek.

Any homesharing arrangement that involves a senior should take home safety into consideration. The Government of Canada's website reports that "falls are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians with 20-30% of seniors experiencing one or more falls each year."

These falls often result in hospitalization. In fact, the Canadian government reports that "falls cause 85% of seniors' injury-related hospitalizations, 95% of all hip fractures, $2 billion a year in direct healthcare costs, and over one third of seniors are admitted to long-term care following hospitalization for a fall."

With these statistics in mind, start by making your home fall-safe. These home safety tips are a great start to ensure your home is safe for your senior housemate:

  • Keep outdoor walkways, pathways and driveways cleared of ice and snow

  • Remove throw rugs. The edges can be tripping hazards

  • Keep your floors, stairs and home clutter-free

  • Ensure cords do not stretch across floors

  • Is there enough lighting inside and outside of your home? If not: replace burned out light bulbs immediately; install new light fixtures; consider installing motion detection lighting inside and outside your home

  • Install handrails in the bathroom

  • Are your stairs easy to see? Painting stair tops a contrasting colour can help seniors differentiate between stair steps

  • Ensure all stair railings are safe and secure. If you don't have railings, then you should install them along all sets of stairs

  • Store regularly used items like dishes within reach so that your housemate doesn't have to reach or use a stool to access them

  • Consider the placement of furniture in shared spaces – is it difficult to move around certain items like benches or footstools? If so, rearrange the furniture to allow for more space.

In addition to keeping your home fall-safe, it's a good idea to have phones easily accessible in common rooms so that a senior who is alone and has fallen can get to a phone to call for help.

Of course, there are several other safety considerations for anyone looking to open their home to home sharing. These include having enough emergency exits on each floor, having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and having fire extinguishers easily available. Check with your municipality to ensure you're meeting all required by-laws.

Want to make your home safer for your housemate? Give HomeShare Alliance a call. We're offering online interviews and free phone consultations to answer any questions you may have about homesharing. As a non-essential service, we're not able to support new home shares at this time, but we remain available to offer our advice, so please reach out to us with any questions you may have.

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