Often wisdom comes with age, however, getting older can also bring its own brand of naivety at the same time. No one is ever completely safe when they walk out the door in the morning, but seniors often have unique challenges that require a different mindset and precautions in order to stay as independent as possible.
Making your home safe for seniors is all about providing the right tools and making it easy to use them. Home security can be a daunting topic, especially when you’re talking about protecting the safety of an aging loved one. There are many complicated systems on the market today that claim to be “easy to use” but can actually make things more complicated for you and your senior.
Here are some tips to help you make smart investments in home security without over-complicating things or spending too much money:
Keep the Home Clean
Clutter in the home can lead to accidental slips and falls, and can also make it harder to keep the mind clear. If keeping things clean is difficult, consider hiring help to assist in getting caught up from time to time. A clean home also assures that the air quality remains good and will keep many health problems at bay.
For many seniors, balance can start to become an issue, and railings are leaned on a bit more than they once were. This means they need to be sturdy. Over time railings can become shaky and need to be reinforced. Most seniors don’t slide down the banister, but railings should be secured to support them if they did.
In addition to having good railings, stairways should also have adequate lighting and a phone or other contact system should be available on every level of a home, so it is always possible to call for help.
Install Grab Bars
Bathrooms and other areas of the home where floors can easily become slippery need to have grab bars nearby in case seniors need assistance standing up, or catching themselves if they start to slip.
Consider a Medic Alert Bracelet System
All those “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up commercials have become classic, but for someone who actually is facing that situation, it can be anywhere from unsettling to downright terrifying.
At the least make sure emergency numbers are handy and consider keeping a landline telephone rather than relying solely on cell phones, which may run out of battery when you need them most.
Stay Active With Other Seniors
There is safety in numbers. Not only are seniors less likely to be targeted by unscrupulous people when they are together, but keeping a sense of community helps to guard against possible depression that is often an issue in older adults, especially those who live alone.
Hire Help When You Need It
Many seniors resist moving into assisted living or even into senior-supported living environments.
If you are mostly independent, it doesn’t hurt to hold on to as much of your independence if you can, but it is also okay to reach out if you need it, or just if it will make your life a bit easier.
Having an aide bring you a meal a few days a week, or hiring a dog walker to walk your dog, or taking advantage of ride services to get to medical appointments are all ways to assure that you get the breaks you need and the company you deserve.
Watch Out For Fire and Heat Sources
Even if your mind is still quite sharp, there is still a higher likelihood that you could have a moment of forgetfulness or lapse in your balance.
Fire and heat sources like candles, heaters, and stovetops add risk to your environment, and it is important to be mindful of these risks.
People of all ages are reducing their use of traditional wick candles because it can be very easy for them to be forgotten when they are still lit. There is a chance they could be bumped or knocked over and start a fire.
Similarly, if you cook on the stovetop be careful that the stove is always turned off completely. When you are cooking, avoid loose sleeves or scarves that could potentially catch fire.
Embrace Routine and Take Notes
The stronger your plan is for the day the less likely you are going to be forgetful when it comes to what you need to do. If you take medication code your last few doses in some way that will alert you to when you are running low.
Seeing that people you trust are aware of your routine also gives loved ones peace of mind and can alert those that care to look in on you if things don’t seem to be going to plan.
Use Motion Activated Lights
Motion-activated lights are a good security option if you have a yard, and can potentially spook off would-be intruders. They can also be helpful in your home.
The simple task of getting up in the night to use the bathroom can be that much less of a hassle if you aren’t fumbling for a switch and can clearly see potential obstacles.
Make Your Home Look Active, Even if You Are Away
Many seniors like to spend time in their retirement either traveling for their own sake or getting away to a warmer climate during the winter.
Whatever your reason might be for not staying put twelve months out of the year, it’s important to realize an empty house can be a vulnerable house.
You can make it look like you are still at home by having your mail held at the post office or picked up, or but putting your lights or television on timers to make it appear there is an activity in your home if you are away for an extended period of time.
Be Wary of Potential Scammers or Aggressive Salespeople
Unfortunately, there is a class of people who see seniors as people who may have a nest egg to exploit, and might not have the modern awareness to resist what looks like a good deal.
While your life savings may be a lot to someone else, chances are it is something you need to last.
If someone does not seem strong enough to defend themselves there is a good chance someone will try to play on their vulnerability, whether they are knocking on the front door or making false promises with sales calls or sweepstakes. The rule that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is applies.
Be careful of offering information over the phone to anyone who calls you, especially if they ask for sensitive information like social security numbers or bank account information. They may be impersonating legitimate organizations, or be trying to appeal to qualities that will get you to contribute more than you can afford.
Run by major purchases or charitable contributions with people you trust and research organizations to assure they are legitimate before you sign any contracts or checks.
Keep Your Windows and Doors Locked at All Times
Even if you are home, make sure you are constantly locking your door when anyone goes in or out of it. It may seem paranoid at first, but you’ll get used to doing it quickly.
Don’t leave your doors unlocked even if you are expecting someone or leaving for a short time – this might give someone an opportunity to get inside without being noticed by you.
Thieves and other intruders don’t just target seniors in the night, there are many who will walk up to your home in broad daylight. Be certain that those who visit you are people you can trust.
If someone you don’t know has an opportunity to cross your threshold, there is a greater chance they may take advantage of you or try to get you off your game.
Peepholes or even security cameras give you the ability to stay one step ahead and keep yourself safe.
Double-Check the Legitimacy of All Contests and Sweepstakes
“Winning the Lottery” is a fantasy that many of us never quite outgrow. Many seniors crave prize money not just for themselves, but to potentially help out others in their lives.
Illegitimate contest holders will often put conditions on getting access to a prize that involves offering personal information and use that to drain bank accounts or compromise a person’s identity.
Anyone who says that a decision needs to be made right then and there is waving a red flag that they are probably not someone you want to do business with.
Talk with trusted friends and family, or check with the Better Business Bureau to verify a company’s track record.
Get the names and titles of people you talk to. Those who are honest will gladly provide this information as it will help assure that they get credit for any sale they make.
Know Your Physical and Mental Limits
Physically, seniors are more prone to falling and are more apt to experience emergency health problems than younger people. They may be less flexible and just move slower in general than when they were younger.
Seniors are also more likely to be taken advantage of financially. Scams against seniors are more common against those who are younger. While some legitimate programs to make life easier for seniors exist, there are many that simply prey on older adults in an attempt to drain their bank accounts.
It is important that seniors be mindful of both physical and financial risks in order to stay safe in their home.
Ask a Neighbor to Take a Look Around Your Home Regularly
Ask a neighbor to take a look around your home regularly. That way you’re not the only one watching. If they see anything suspicious, they will be able to alert you before anything happens.
Even if you just moved into the neighborhood, be sure to introduce yourself and let them know that you appreciate them keeping an eye on your home while you’re out.
If you don’t have any neighbors or family members who could do this for you, consider hiring a home security company such as Vivint to provide around-the-clock monitoring of your house and property. This way, you’ll never have to worry about someone breaking in and stealing your belongings, or harming your pets or children.
This may seem like a lot of work (and expense), but think about how much it would cost if someone broke into your home and stole all of your valuables. These services can be pricey – however – so shop around for the best deals before choosing one – and be sure that they are reputable before signing up with them.
Create a Safe Room
If you are really concerned about your safety, look into setting up a safe room.
A safe room is a room in your home that can be locked from the inside. They are typically reinforced to provide protection from tornadoes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters. It can also be used as a shelter during a home invasion or any other dangerous situation.
The purpose of a safe room is to help you stay safe until authorities arrive. It provides a temporary solution until you can get out of a dangerous situation safely. They are meant to provide protection from weather conditions, fires, and intruders until you can get to safety.
Even if your purpose for having a safe room is not one of those situations, it is still extremely beneficial to have one because it provides security for you and your family.
A few things to consider before building your own safe room:
- Safe rooms should always be anchored into the foundation and at least 8 inches thick. The thickness of the walls will protect against bullets and other projectiles that may be flying through the air.
- Keep one door for entry and exit but have another door that allows you to lock yourself into the safe room and keep intruders out. The second door will prevent anyone from breaking down the first door and gaining access to your safe room.
- Always have an alternate light source available such as candles or lights with batteries in.
Check for Faulty Wiring and Locks
Home security for seniors involves more than just installing locks, alarms, and sensors. You also need to consider potential dangers like faulty wiring and loose floorboards.
You should start with checking for faulty electrical wiring since older electric systems are likely to have problems. Check the insulation around the electrical wires to see if it’s melted or cracked.
If you see a spark when you flick a light switch, you should call a professional immediately. Loose floorboards can be a tripping hazard for seniors, so check them regularly and have them fixed if necessary.
Conclusion: Home Security Tips For Seniors
Let’s do a quick debrief of our article on home security tips for seniors. We learned that home security is all about prevention, keep your house clean of any valuable objects, don’t open your door if you are not sure who it is, don’t give out your information, and make sure you have good locks on your doors.
That brings our journey to an end. We’ve discussed numerous home security tips and best practices for seniors. Hopefully, some of these strategies will work for you and provide increased security for your senior loved ones.
We hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or whichever social media platform you most prefer.