Older people are often quite vulnerable, so personal safety becomes a primary concern. We all age differently. Some people remain strong and independent till much older ages than others.
Most older people want to remain in their homes as they 'age in place'. Many home health agencies and providers can assist people with routine living activities or even supervision to due memory loss.
However, some people will move to senior living, either independent living or assisted living. A memory care facility or nursing home may be an option for those with needs beyond the care available through assisted living facilities.
Personal safety is always a concern for older people. If a loved one is living at home, adjustments may need to be made for someone to feel safe, secure, and independent.
Home security is vital. Here are some ways to improve home security.
Remove Hazardous Objects from the Home
Safety is just as important as security. Before adding things that will help secure the home and you or your loved one from various threats, it is essential to make it safe first.
The top priority in making a home safe is to remove hazardous objects. Those are unsecured throw rugs, furniture that has seen better days, scattered electrical cords, etc.
Moreover, besides the 'big' things around the house, you will have to move or get rid of 'small' things. Small things are household knick-knacks such as pet toys, your grandchild's toys, clothes, shoes, books, tools, and other items cluttering your walking area.
Tripping and falling can be very dangerous for older people. Falls are one of the most common reasons seniors end up in the emergency room and often lead to long-term health care. Thus, to stay safe, deal with your cluttered home first.
To be safe, keep your home as free from clutter as possible.
Install Safety Equipment Throughout the Home
Now that your home is free from all the clutter installing some safety equipment throughout the home is essential. You may not need to use this equipment now, but you probably will in the years ahead. And, when you do, you will be glad you did this now.
Start with your bathroom. To maintain you or your loved one’s independence, you should design an accessible bathroom for older adults. That is a bathroom with non-slip strips, grab bars, raised toilet seat, a chair inside the shower, a removable handheld showerhead, etc.
Don't stop with your bathroom. You can make the rest of your home more accessible too. Here are some examples:
install motion-sensor nightlights throughout the house
replace old doorknobs and handles with lever ones
add a ramp if necessary for those with mobility problems
add handles next to the bed or couch
consider adding non-slip or anti-slip floor tiles
place a flashlight in the bedroom and living room in the event of a power outage
install a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm on every floor.
consider getting a medical alert system
Install a Home Security System
Until now, we talked about how older adults can improve home safety. And now, we are going to talk about how older adults can improve home security.
Even if you or your older parent lives in a 'safe neighborhood,' even safe neighbors can have crime, and older people are especially vulnerable. The rate of violence against adults aged 60 and older is going up, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC report estimates that nonfatal attacks against men 60 and older increased by 75.4% between 2002 and 2016. The rate of nonfatal assaults against women of that age rose by 35.4% from 2007 to 2016.
Aside from having armed guards, installing a home security system is the easiest way to do that. There are many security systems you can choose from - from basic ones that offer only one camera above your front door to more complicated ones that provide professional monitoring that is linked to your lights, phones, alarms, and police.
No matter which home security system you choose, be careful when you pick the security company to install it. You need to find the right company for you to handle this matter, especially if you choose a more complicated and advanced home security system.
Security cameras are always a good idea!
Replace Doors and Windows
Replacing their old doors and windows with something stronger, sturdier, and safer is a good idea, no matter how old you may be. After all, if thieves want to come in, they will have to use doors and windows.
Find a company that specializes in making secure doors and windows. Those are usually doors and windows made of thick materials, secured with several locks, observed by the camera, and controlled only by you.
Of course, different companies will offer various security features that come with these doors and windows, so do some research. Go to several companies and talk to professionals about improving your doors and windows that offer better security.
Keep in mind there are energy benefits of new doors and windows. Your new doors and windows can offer you better security and energy saving, considering the high energy costs.
Get a Dog
Perhaps a low-tech option will work as well, like getting a dog. Trained dogs can be a great security measure (if you don't spoil them too much). Breeds like German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, etc., will scare away all the intruders.
Any dog that can bark will scare away most intruders, no matter the animal's size. Moreover, having a dog is excellent for security and keeping you or a loved one active, entertained, and loved. Of course, nobody can replace human contact, but a dog can be of great help. With it, you can walk more, socialize with other older adults who love dogs, and have a new best friend.
A scary dog will be a great security measure, but most any dog can scare away intruders.
Be Prepared - Start Now
There are many ways older adults can improve home safety. Many couples start thinking about making their home more age and disability-friendly in their 50s well before retiring and getting older. Is your home suitable for you to live in your 70s and 80s (perhaps beyond)?
What about your older parents? Have they taken steps to improve their home if they are aging in place? Do they need help and supervision now? Do they have Long-Term Care Insurance? Do you have a policy (most people obtain coverage in their 50s)?
Of course, you don't have to do everything all at once. Still, it would be good to start thinking about some of those security and safety gadgets that help older adults live more independently.
You never know when your health will decline or if you will have other aging or mobility problems. Being prepared avoids a crisis.
Perhaps the most critical thing an older person can do if they live at home is get a medical alert system. The TV commercial says, "I've fallen and can't get up." We might laugh, but if you are older and alone, this is a lifeline that adds to your or a loved one's independence.
Be sure your older family members have emergency contact information available. The Vial Of Life Program is an example. If your senior parent has a medical emergency, they might not be in a position to communicate well with first responders. Vial of Life kits can save a life.
The free Vial of Life kit has medical information and decals to let first responders know that vital medical information is available. This critical medical information includes:
list of medical conditions
general medical information
list of current medications
key family member contacts
Get more information by clicking here.
The goal for most people is to age gracefully, ideally at home. That requires preparation. The earlier you start planning, the better off you and your loved ones will be in the years ahead.
About the Author
Jane Stinson is a relocation specialist who has worked with many seniors over the years. Having seen how hard some of them have taken it, she has decided to start blogging about helping seniors, and younger generations, move to their new homes. Jane aims to make the whole experience more comfortable. In her free time, she enjoys reading and gardening.
Contributor since March 26th, 2021
Are you ready to age gracefully? Have you considered what you need to be less dependent on others as you get older? Planning for the costs and burdens of aging is a crucial part of an overall retirement plan.
Aging happens and has consequences that affect you and your family. Declining health, mobility problems, and even memory loss will become a reality for many of us as we get older. You will require help with your daily living activities or supervision due to dementia when it happens.
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