Home Instead Senior Care is providing home safety checks and tips free of charge for area seniors and their caregivers.

Caregivers can use the online checklist and tools to do home safety checks themselves, but Home Instead also is offering to do the checks for free with no obligation to the clients, said Jonathan Fry, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care franchise office serving Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin and Johnson counties.

"If they’re not intending to use Home Instead Senior Care as their provider, it doesn’t matter. If they want Home Instead to come and do a safety check, we’re more than happy to provide that," Fry said.

A free safety checklist always has been incorporated into every home check before starting a program with a client, Fry said. Nurses are trained to check all areas of the home for safety issues, he said.

"About 85 percent of seniors have done nothing to prepare their home for aging," Fry said. "They’ve lived in their home for years and it worked great for them when they were younger."

But as people grow older and their bodies become more limited, so do their homes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Of those who fall, 20-30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.

A study comprised of 1,200 telephone calls to seniors age 65 and older and their adult children who have parents age 65 or older was conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchiser of the Home Instead Senior Care network.

According to that study, 65 percent of senior homes have at least one potential safety issue. Another study of emergency room doctors concluded that 48 percent of all home accidents by seniors can be avoided.

There are plenty of things seniors should do to make their home safer, many of them low cost and easy such as getting brighter light bulbs, removing throw rugs, tightening railings, and getting rid of stacks of magazines or papers, Fry said.

"The home should be the safest and most comfortable place for aging seniors," Fry said. "It is critical for families and seniors to invest the time in identifying and making the necessary home safety modifications to ensure it stays that way."

Senior home safety experts recommend that adult children of seniors take at least one day each year to perform a thorough safety check of their parents’ home.

"Typically, these are relatively easy and affordable fixes—and they could be the difference between a trip to the emergency room and staying safe at home," Fry said.

On its website, caregivers can find a video with simple modifications for safety, and a list of "Five Fixes Under $500," along with other tools and the full safety checklist.

Caregivers and seniors can request a free home safety checklist and other materials by calling the area Home Instead office at (479) 434-6960 or visiting www.makinghomesaferforseniors.com.

"Our goal at Home Instead is to help folks age safely and independently in their homes," Fry said.