Crime is one of the biggest concerns for older people. If you have concerns that your elderly relatives are vulnerable to robbery or break-in, here are several steps you can take to keep your loved ones safe.
As your elderly relatives get older, you might become concerned about their ability to live safely in their homes. As we age, changes to our mobility, vision, balance, or memory can make staying safe at home a little trickier than it used to be. But another equally dangerous risk for your elderly relatives is dangers from the outside. Unfortunately, the elderly are more susceptible to break-ins and home intruders than younger generations because robbers perceive the elderly as an easier target. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of nine ways to ensure elderly relatives are safe at home.
1) Plan and discuss home safety
It’s important to regularly check in with your relatives to check on their welfare, but it’s always worth having a discussion with them to check that they have good home security practices, such as the following:
- Keeping any valuables out of sight;
- Always lock doors and windows, even when in the house;
- Having an emergency plan in place as well as an emergency contact;
- Answering the door safely, by asking the visitor to identify themselves before opening the door if there’s no security screen door installed.
2) Check the exterior
Outdoor items that may seem harmless can actually help a burglar break in. Consider:
- Ladders propped against the fence;
- Bricks surrounding flower beds;
- House keys hidden under flowerpots; and
- Shovels left leaning against the house.
Always keep garden tools locked in a shed, don’t stack bricks or large rocks near the entrance to the house, and never leave a key hidden outside. Instead, make sure regular visitors have a copy of the key and, if there is a trusted neighbour nearby, leave a copy with them.
3) Install barrier security measures
Security doors are perfect for keeping your elderly relative safe at home. An Australian Standards tested security screen door will allow your relative to safely leave doors open for natural ventilation and also allow them to safely answer their front door without leaving themselves vulnerable to an intruder.
If your elderly relative’s home does not have a security door installed, or if their security door is faulty or outdated, call Jim’s Security Doors for a free consultation, measure, and quote on 13 15 46.
4) Make sure your loved one is using these security measures!
Although your elderly relative may be accustomed to leaving the back door unlocked or a window open, an unlocked door is the most common method of entry into a home for robbers. Please talk with your elderly relative about the importance of locking their security doors and windows at all times, of never leaving a spare key hidden outside in an obvious place such as under the doormat.
5) Consider using a personal alarm
When it comes to staying safe at home, personal alarms can be a handy tool. Depending on the model that you and your relative choose, they will be able to call for help at the touch of a button. This alarm will connect to a response team which, in most cases, will alert nominated family or friends to come and assist the user.
6) Discuss fire safety measures
Older people are more vulnerable to house fires than younger generations. There are a few reasons for this:
- Older people are usually less likely to keep up with household jobs like testing a smoke detector regularly or replacing its batteries; and
- They can find it more challenging to detect a fire when it happens due to sensory degradation.
So, how can you help your elderly relative prevent fire hazards?
- Check appliances for damaged cords;
- Check that power sockets haven’t been overloaded;
- Encourage your loved ones to blow out any lit candles when they leave the room;
- Advise your relative to avoid smoking indoors; and
- Check their smoke detectors regularly.
In case of a fire, ensure your loved one has an escape plan and a way to call for help. If they cannot move quickly, this might be another reason that a personal alarm is a good idea to quickly and easily call for help.
If your relative has security screens installed on their windows to prevent burglars from breaking in, it’s a good idea to have one fire access safety screen in every room, particularly if their home is located in a bushfire-prone area. That way, if they become trapped in a room without access to an external door, they will easily be able to unlatch the fire safety window screen to escape that way.
Click here for more information on fire safety screens.
7 ) Preventing falls
Falls are perhaps the most significant risk that older people face at home. That’s why it is so important to take steps to prevent falls by doing such things as:
- Encourage your relative to wear hard-soled slippers within the home if they don’t want to wear shoes indoors;
- Install motion activated lights to help them navigate trip hazards at night;
- If they have stairs in the home, you might consider installing a second bannister so that they can hold on with two hands when climbing or descending stairs;
- For those who rely on a walking frame or stick, encourage them to use it all the time. Using furniture to balance can be dangerous in case the furniture tips or falls; and
- Encourage regular exercise to help maintain good balance and coordination.
8) In-home hazards
Here are several hazards that you and your loved one should assess and keep on top of to ensure that they are safe within their home.
- Make sure electrical appliances are not positioned close to water sources;
- Remind your relative not to wear baggy clothing when cooking;
- Check that their knives are always sharp, as a blunt knife is actually more of a safety hazard than a sharp one;
- Ensure that the home is always clean and free from harmful bacteria; and
- Install safety rails in showers and baths.
9) Safety in hot weather
It is important to think about your elderly relative’s safety during periods of hot weather. Older people are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat and can quickly succumb to heatstroke if their home is not able to stay cool. It may be worth considering installing an air conditioning unit in areas that face extreme heat. If the home is fitted with an air conditioning unit or fan, ensure that your relative knows how to use it effectively. Also, make sure that they have adequate means of opening the house up to cool air once the daytime heat cools off. This might mean installing security doors and windows to keep them from being vulnerable to burglars or intruders while allowing natural ventilation to cool the home.
You can do a lot to ensure your elderly relative is safe within their residence. By taking the time to plan for emergencies, checking the exterior of their home for safety concerns, and installing security measures to protect them from burglars, you can play your part in keeping them safe and happy living in their own homes.