Assisted Living Safety: What to Look For
Tripping, falling and breaking a hip is a bad news scenario for seniors. That is why senior fitness expert
Betty Perkins-Carpenter, Ph.D. of Rochester, New York, stresses the importance of fall prevention and
other safety measures when evaluating assisted living safety. A recipient of the President’s Council on
Physical Fitness and Sports Achievement Award, the 79-year-old suggests individuals and families look for
physical safety measures in combination with an atmosphere that encourages residents’ personal
Where to start for assisted living safety
For starters, the author of “How to Prevent Falls” recommends assisted living communities provide a
baseline of fire and supportive device safety. Smoke detectors and fire sprinklers as well as handrails and
ample lighting need to be available not only in the hallways, but also in common or community areas such
as dining rooms and activity rooms.
Otherwise, does the assisted living community provide safety locks on the windows, an emergency
generator or alternative power source? Ask if the facility has fire drills and an emergency plan that is
publicly displayed. Check apartments to see if the carpeting allows for the easy movement of walkers and
canes. Is the bathroom equipped with a safety-signaling device, proper matting and safety bars?
Beyond these assisted living safety measures, Perkins-Carpenter provides further fall prevention tips.
When walking through an assisted living community, check if the bottom step has recessed lighting or a
strip of colored tape. “When the last step is not differentiated, it’s an accident waiting to happen,” says the
former Olympic diving coach. “In addition, make sure area rugs are not allowed to creep or project over the
top step of a stairway. These little things tell you if a facility is alert to preventing falls.”
When evaluating assisted living safety also keep in mind, says Perkins-Carpenter, “The brighter the light
the better, especially for people with