Preparing your home for caregiving

Maria Sandella

When you decide to become a caregiver one of the first steps you need to take before moving someone into your home is to prepare your home for their arrival. Preparing your home for a disabled or ill adult is much the same as childproofing your home for a toddler. Each room must be gone through, reorganized if needed and made as accident proof as possible.

Here is a room by room checklist to use as a guideline.

Common Living Areas

• Are all electrical and telephone chords secured or out of the way to avoid being tripped over? Don't run your chords under rugs or furniture, they can become damaged or frayed and don't use tacks or nails to secure them down.

• Will your loved one be able to turn lights on and off easily? If not you can try touchable lamps or lamps that react to sound.

• Do the doors and windows open easily and lock securely?

• Are walking pathways free of clutter?

• Will your loved one be able to get up and down from your sofa and chairs safely and easily? If not, straight back chairs with armrests and firm seats may be a wise investment. You can also add a firm cushion to your existing chairs since adding a bit of height will make it easier for them to sit down on and get up from.

• If your loved one is still able to use the phone you may want to purchase a telephone with large push buttons which will make dialing easy. Program all emergency numbers into speed dial, you can also write the numbers down and tape them to the wall by the phone. Another great idea is to obtain an emergency call system in case of fall or injury.

• Obtain a wireless intercom system so you can be easily reached if the person needs assistance.

• Make sure a television with remote control is accessible.


• Are your appliances in working order?

• Are your pots and pans, utensils and food easily accessible?

• Are all flammable materials away from the stove?

• Are sharp objects stored in a safe place?

• Is there adequate space to work?

• Call all kitchen outlets be reached safely?

• Is it easy to transfer food from the cooking area to the eating area?

• Are the sink faucets easy to turn on and off and easy to reach?


• Is the entrance to the bathroom easily accessed and free from clutter?

• Will your loved one be able to get in and out of the shower and bathtub safely on their own? If they can't you will have to install grab bars on both the inside and outside of the bath and shower. Remember that towel racks are not sturdy enough or meant to be used as grab handles.

• Make sure the shower or bathtub has a waterproof wireless intercom so assistance can be summoned if needed.

• Can your loved one shower safely standing up or is a chair needed? If you do need a chair, purchase one with non-skid pads.

• Have you placed non-skid strip pads and a bath mat in place?

• Have you installed a raised seat, a safety frame or a grab bar so your loved one can safely transfer to the toilet?

• Can the outlets, and light switches be easily reached?

• Do you have a nightlight for those midnight bathroom trips?


• You will have to consider purchasing an electric bed if your loved one has problems getting in and out of a regular bed safely.

• Can the bedside light be reached from bed?

• Is there a phone that can be reached from bed?

• Is there a wireless intercom that can be used to reach you in case of emergencies?

• Is there a clear path from the bed to the bathroom?

• If your loved one has difficulty getting in and out of bed you can install a trapeze bar for them to use.

• Do you have guardrails on the bed to ensure your loved one does not fall out during the night?

General Safety

• Do you have working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers throughout your home? It is always a good idea to periodically check to make sure they are working properly.

• Do you have emergency numbers such as the hospital, fire, and 911 by the phone, as well as any other emergency contact number?

• Have you placed night lights in every room of the house if your loved one is a night wanderer? The little bit of light they do give off will help to prevent tripping and falling.

Special Equipment That You May Need

• A hospital bed

• A cane and or walker

• A wheelchair

• A bedside commode

• A transfer lift – to help get in and out of bed

• Oxygen

• Wireless intercom system

While this may seem like a lot of work on your part in order to get your home ready it really isn't. Go through each room one at a time and make a list of things that need to be done, based on your loved ones disability or illness. You may find you are more prepared to be a caregiver than you thought you were.

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About the Author
Maria Sandella was the primary caregiver for her grandmother for 2 years until her passing. She also worked summers in a long-term care facility while attending college. She now works as an Application Specialist for, which provides wireless intercom systems that caregivers use.
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