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7 home security tips for seniors and the elderly

Living on our own when we reach a certain age can be a daunting reality, but there are quite a few things you can do to help stay safer and keep your wits about you. Whether you’re a senior yourself or you’re simply concerned for an elderly relative or neighbour, you’ll find lots of useful home security tips to help keep them safe here.  

  1. Door security

One thing that worries us when we think of the elderly on their own in their home, is the potential for scammers, or those who like to take advantage of the senior generation. These days, people can be quick to pose as official inspectors, often convincing the best of us, and before you know it, they’ve managed to swindle hundreds or thousands off those more vulnerable, more trusting or easily misled.

Not only that, anyone who has an agenda to burgle a home, often targets the elderly as they know they have more of a fighting chance. Help make it a lot harder for them to do so with these door security tips:

  • Have a spyhole or invest in smart home security to monitor who’s at the door with cameras and technology that can enable you to speak to people outside without having to open the door, or even be in the house 
  • Make sure you’re always on top of your door lock security and have door chains to add another level of security
  • If someone seems suspicious, and has turned up wanting to inspect something and you haven’t arranged this, remember you can always ask for proof of identity before they can enter. In fact, you should! And if you’re still unsure, check with the company by ringing them before opening the door. Chances are, if they are legit they’ll wait it out, but if they’re not, they’ll scarper
  • You may want to get a door jammer for further reassurance, many can withstand over 2,500 pounds of forced weight
  • Always lock doors when inside your home, going out or going to bed. Do double check all windows, patios and doors are locked 

2. Safer driveways

To make a driveway safer, there are a number of things you can do, from keeping safe during the wintry seasons, to providing another layer of security to your home and vehicles.

It all starts with robust driveway gates, and they don’t have to be an eyesore. They can come beautifully crafted and in different designs to suit different environments and homes. What’s great about them, is that you can also get opaque ones to keep nosy eyes from prying. 

Better privacy can go a long way, especially to keep opportunistic thieves from getting a closer look at your vehicles or peeking through living rooms and conservatories.

During the winter season

It’s also important to keep your driveways safe and clear from wintry or icy hazards, especially if you’re more vulnerable or elderly. It’s always good to have rock salt bags ready for those icy days and if you have a garage, keep handy tools available to rake any buildup of wet, slippery autumn leaves.

3. Burglar alarm systems

One of the best ways to protect your home is to have a working burglar alarm system. There are so many to choose from these days, and they’ve gotten a lot smarter. With a smart home security system, you can now view live 24/7 camera footage from tablets, computers or smartphones with your own home security cameras. Alarm sensors can even be intelligently linked where they can detect motion, glass breaking to water leaks.

4. Emergency numbers

Always keep emergency numbers and priority contacts nearby. Make sure contacts are updated in mobiles and store the list near landlines, or on fridges, where you can easily view them. If you or an elderly loved one struggles using technology, consider a basic mobile for them that they can make calls on, where they don’t have to worry about touchscreens. 

On a lot of mobiles, you can also adjust the text sizes and screen brightness, so make sure they are set right for your senior relatives. Again, make sure clear notes are placed near every phone device listing emergency numbers, close contacts and any personal health care providers.

5. Fire hazards

Fires can often start from clustered electric cables, candles, gas on hobs being left on or if cigarettes haven’t been put out properly. When it comes to seniors and the elderly, it’s just making sure they’re being extra vigilant and do check in on them, reminding them of how to reduce fire hazards to test their alertness and competence. What can we do to help reduce fire hazards?

  • First, make sure to check and test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries regularly
  • Make sure when lighting candles, that there aren’t highly flammable materials too close or even above, like a paper decoration that may easily fall onto a burning candle – make sure you blow them out before napping or going to bed and do supervise when they are lit
  • Try to avoid heaters, but if you have them, make sure you follow guidelines closely and do not cover them or try to dry clothes over them, give plenty of room for them and again keep them well away from highly flammable materials and surfaces. The reason it’s best to avoid them, is that it can be easy for seniors to place them too close to beds, curtains and fabrics to warm up, where they may forget about them and fall asleep
  • Check electrical appliances, cords, cables and sockets. Check for any damage, frays or any clutter and limit the number of plugs in sockets
  • Make sure fireplaces have fire safety guards and are kept clear, especially if you have log burners. Have the right equipment, like fire gloves, pokers and log burner thermometers

6. Fall hazards

It cannot be stressed enough to have family or friends help if you struggle to carry out work or maintenance. Especially during colder seasons – with icy conditions – make sure outdoor areas are kept clear and rock salt is used to avoid any nasty falls. Be sure to check in your elderly relatives as often as possible and give them a hand whenever they need it.

Bathroom safety

Make sure bathrooms are suitable and safe with grab bars in baths, showers and beside toilets. Baths can now be updated to walk-in models which are much easier and safer. You can also set limits on thermostats to avoid scalding or accidental burns. Opt for rubber mats over other materials to avoid slipping. 

Stair safety

Where bungalows aren’t an option, seniors need to take extra care when using stairs in their own home to avoid any serious falls or injury. So, how can you improve stair safety in your home?

  • Have sturdy stair railings that can take your weight if you lose balance
  • Make sure stairs are highly visible, and if you need to, have friends or family paint stair edges with bright colour lines, or put coloured duct tape down
  • For outdoor stairs, make sure handrails are sturdy here too and maintain winter maintenance by using rock salt and cleaning up piles of slippery, fallen leaves. If you can’t do this yourself, offer a job to a neighbour or have family or friends help
  • You may want to invest in stairlifts to help get you up and down safely 

7. Deterring intruders

Not only can outdoor lights work brilliantly for helping you see and to avoid falling, they are great for scaring off potential intruders or thieves when bright lights can alert the area and home of who is walking onto your property or driveway. 

Cameras and CCTV positioned high on the walls of your house, linked to smart home security systems are also great at deterring intruders, as well as capturing them. They’ll certainly think twice before stepping foot on your property.

With all this in mind, one of the best things you can also do to improve security is keeping connected to family, friends, neighbours and the community. Consider joining or setting up a neighbourhood watch scheme. Have relatives help out with technology or general manual tasks, if you can, to strengthen your home security and safety. And if you’re a relative of an elderly or senior person, then stay in touch and use this guidance to check in on them and help them with their home security.