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Top five strategies to keep our homes safe as we get older

Written by Liz Moore, Communications Partner with integratedliving

We asked our team of occupational therapists for their advice on senior health and staying safe at home. 


We also asked them what they wanted seniors to know about seeing an occupational therapist. Here's what our experts said.

What are your top five strategies or tips for seniors to keep their home safe?


Occupational Therapist Alex:  


  1. Remove rugs, mats or other trip hazards. 

  2. Get a personal alarm and wear it at all times, for your piece of mind and that of your loved ones. 

  3. Ensure that the lighting is adequate within your home and that your fire alarms are properly working. 

  4. Know your limits – if you need to use a walking aid, use it. If you need regular rest breaks, make sure they are observed. 

  5. Don't be afraid to ask for help! 

Occupational Therapist Sophie: 

  1. Remove all trip hazards, including mats. 

  2. Hips above knees for all transfers to chairs, toilet or bed. 

  3. Grab rails and handrails where appropriate or needed. 

  4. Good lighting. 

  5. Personal alarm. 

Occupational Therapist Donna: 


  1. Have good lighting throughout your home. Night lights, touch lamps and sensor lights are all fantastic. 

  2. Use your walking aid all the time, so you get used to it, including inside your home. 

  3. Avoid having power cords running across the floor. Have some more power points installed in the right places. Install ceiling fans or wall mounted fans or heaters instead of pedestal fans or pedestal heaters. 

  4. Don’t be in a hurry, as my grandmother used to say regularly. 

  5. Please don’t climb up on ladders. 

Occupational Therapist Clare: 

  1. Remove rugs or mats throughout the home to prevent falls.  

  2. Wear supportive footwear.  

  3. Have adequate lighting in the home to promote safe mobility.  

  4. Have access to a falls alarm if you are at risk of falling. 
  5. Request rails at steps, beside the toilet or in the shower if you have reduced balance. 

Occupational Therapist Louise: 

  1. Remove clutter around the home to assist with preventing falls. 

  2. Keep physically active: ‘Move it, or lose it’ – there is so much evidence supporting physical condition with falls prevention. 

  3. Learn something new – keeping the brain active can help prevent dementia. 

  4. Invest in a personal alarm – there are great options to get help quickly if things go awry. 

  5. Use the appropriate tool, equipment or furniture for the job – sometimes gadgets look like a great idea in a magazine, but may actually be quite dangerous. Ask for advice from your friendly occupational therapist. 


What should senior people know about seeking assistance from an occupational therapist? 

Occupational Therapist Alex: 

We don't bite! It's your home, and it's ultimately up to you. We will just give advice and recommendations that we know can improve safety, reduce falls and enhance independence. We will ask lots of questions and ask to see you do things like walking or getting on and off furniture, but our end goal is trying to make things easier, to keep seniors living independently in the home. 

Occupational Therapist Sophie: 

I often say to people that physiotherapy covers mobility and we cover pretty much everything else you do day-to-day! We can provide alternate methods, equipment and home modifications to support your daily activities and work with you on the goals that you determine.

Occupational Therapist Donna: 

We don’t just give out shower chairs or take away all your slippery floor mats! Occupational therapists can help their clients cope better with stress and anxiety, help with memory retraining and talk about issues like whether you feel safe to be driving. 

Occupational Therapist Clare: 

An occupational therapist focuses on assisting you to improve safety and independence in daily activities that are important to you. This could be in the areas of self-care, leisure, community access or mobility and transfers. If you are having issues in any of these areas, it would be beneficial to access support from an occupational therapist. 

Occupational Therapist Louise: 

We are here to offer ideas to maintain or regain independence, safety and access within clients’ homes and community. We consider who is in a person’s life and where they see themselves in the future. Also, there is not a time limit on anything – we realise things change and can re-jig accordingly. 

Find out more about our occupational therapy services