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Fall Risk Assessment: Is Your Parents’ Home Safe?


Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. For this reason, a fall risk assessment and home safety evaluation is vital. Falls can not only be deadly to elders, they can forever alter quality of life since falls often lead to nursing home placement and declining health. A professional fall risk assessment is a valuable tool in preventing falls and the accompanying problems. Below we will outline what is involved and how your family can benefit from a fall risk assessment and home safety evaluation, along with sharing falls prevention resources.

fall risk assessment by geriatric care manager


When should our family consider a professional fall risk assessment and home safety evaluation?

  • As your parents age, their fall risk increases. A home safety evaluation is wise for anyone over the age of 70 and especially those with health problems.
  • If your Mom or Dad has ever fallen before, it is vital to ensure the home environment is as risk-free as possible.
  • If your elderly parent takes medications or has any chronic conditions, it is wise to get a comprehensive assessment.
  • If your aging parents desire to “age in place” at home, a fall risk assessment is one of the best ways to ensure this is possible.
  • When your elderly loved one leaves the hospital or has a change in health, it may be wise to review the health and living situation for continued safety.

What is involved in a professional fall risk assessment?

  1. Review of the client’s health status (diagnoses, medications, history) and possible risks.
  2. Assessment of ADLs and IADLs for potential trouble areas and resources to assist.
  3. Home safety evaluation: a thorough review of the home environment to identify fall risks and ways to improve aging-in-place readiness. For some ideas of key areas of the home, check out EasyLiving’s Fall Prevention Checklist (free for you to download to get an idea if your parents’ home may have safety issues).
  4. The geriatric care manager writes up their findings and recommendations and reviews this with your family.
  5. A geriatric care manager’s assessment is more than just identifying the risks; it comes with personalized recommendations for solutions. So, rather than just saying “the throw rugs are dangerous”, the care manager might offer solutions if the client has a special attachment to the rugs, like non-slip backings or hanging them as wall decoration. For the bathroom, the care manager might recommend someone to install grab bars and provide specific equipment or modification suggestions. Often, the creative solutions make life easier as well as safer. For example, our care manager helped one client rearrange items in the kitchen so key items were within reach and sight. She ended up wasting less food, finding the kitchen more user-friendly and avoided getting on step stools to find items regularly.

How do I approach my elderly parents about a fall risk assessment?

  • Take the approach that this is a step to make sure their wishes (such as the desire to remain at home) can be met.
  • Explain that the process is collaborative. The geriatric care manager will make suggestions and can offer alternatives if they don’t like some of the solutions (such as the above throw rug example).
  • Talk to the care management company about their suggestions if your parents are reluctant. Our care managers are highly experienced working with reluctant clients and often have great success once the clients meet them (daughters and sons frequently tell us they can’t believe Mom agreed to make changes they had been suggesting over and over!).


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Pros and Cons of Aging in Place


It seems everyone wishes to remain in their own homes as they age (90+% of seniors respond with this preference on various surveys)–also known as “aging in place”. But, are there any downsides to aging in place? Are there times when moving to an assisted living facility might be a better choice?

As eldercare advisors to hundreds of families over the years, we of course believe this is an individualized decision with pros and cons depending on the case. But, it can be hard for elders or their family members to imagine what the cons might be to aging in place (as survey results clearly show). This also leads to promises like “Mom, I’ll never put you into a ‘home’.” Today, we’ll help present an overall picture of the pros and cons of aging in place. When you’re facing such decisions or even planning for the future, a personalized assessment is the best way to determine if the pros outweigh the cons for your family.

PROS: The Argument for Aging in Place

  • Preference: Overall, this is the option most people prefer when looking into the future aelderly couple aging in place at homend it is associated with maximum independence/choice.
  • Comfort: Familiar surroundings form a strong sense of attachment and can be an ideal place to live out your later years with the memories surrounding you.
  • Individualized: Supportive home care can be brought in and tailored to your needs. Everything can be catered to you, from the foods you prefer to eat to the way you want your laundry done to the schedule you keep.
  • Cost: When you need a little support to stay in your home, care and services can be brought in for relatively low cost. If you own your home, aging in place with home care can be very cost-effective.
  • Routine: Aging-in-place means your lifelong routines and habits can be maintained, at least to a great extent. Typically, in a group setting such as assisted living there may be set routines and rules.


CONS: When Assisted Living or a Retirement Home Might Be Best

  • Isolation: Elders can have a tendency to become isolated living alone if mobility or activity is limited. Some group around pianoelders may blossom with the socialization and activities that the right retirement home provides.
  • Home Maintenance: As you age, a home can become overwhelming to maintain and costs may even become an issue.
  • Safety: A home can be full of fall hazards and other potential safety problems. It is essential to do a home safety assessment for proper aging in place and make necessary changes to ensure the home is safe and the resources are available to stay safe. Other safety issues you may not have thought about include scams (living in a retirement community does not make you immune to them, but scammers often target elders living alone).
  • Cost: Depending on the level of care needed, the economies of scale in a group setting can make it more affordable. In comparing costs, the budget should include care costs, meals, household maintenance, utilities and other costs for both options (hint: we can help you create a budget and compare your choices, as well as finding hidden options you might not know about!).

So, is aging in place right for you? There are many more areas to explore to know what’s best in your situation. A lot of the factors that influence this decision are hugely personal. You’ll notice, for example, cost is listed under both options because the costs are very dependent upon the situation and needs. Even when the financial, medical, and care needs are identical, two different people may find resolution in differing options.

The families we work with often tell us what a relief it was to work through these decisions with the help of our care manager. The experienced professional offers not only wise counsel, but an independent assessment which helps everyone have a realistic picture of the situation. the care manager also helps the client make a dignified transition (whether to having help at home for the first time or to a physical move).

Contact Aging Wisely online or at 727-447-5845 to find out if aging in place is right for you and to know all of the best options for aging wisely and well.

When you want the best for your aging parents…

Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.

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Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.