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5 Tips For Keeping Elderly Parents Safe in Their Own Home

January 25, 2018 7:41 am

When your parents are getting older and entering their senior years, or if you’re an aging parent yourself, you might be wondering about what you can do to ensure a safer home. You might also be wondering if it’s time to move into a more secure type of environment like senior housing or assisted living. The truth is, that with 15% of the US population, including here in Phoenix in their twilight years and the high cost of housing alternatives, more and more seniors are instead choosing to remain in their own home and age in place instead. And while the “Aging in Place” trend has come with more and more design solutions, home security features might be getting ignored.

It’s true that your elderly parents might be more physically and sometimes cognitively vulnerable to predators and burglars because of their age, there’s no need to get paranoid and insist they enter a home or move in with you. Below you’ll find 5 tips for keeping your elderly parents safe so they can age in place in their own home.

1. Security Screen Doors

Because seniors are more likely to be targeted by con artists going door to door, and because your aging parents probably have a very set and predictable routine, criminals can observe their behavior over several days and then make their move, maybe posing as door to door salespeople or just not caring they’re home and breaking in any way. Having security screen doors installed at all the doors, including sliding doors and French doors can greatly reduce the likelihood that a thief or scammer will try to push in and take what they want from your parents, possibly even harming them physically in the process.

Bonus tip: Instead of hiding extra keys in a flower pot or under a doormat, consider installing a lockbox with a keycode or eliminate the need for keys and replace the standard locks with keycode locks that just require a code be entered to gain entry.

2. Window Guards

Over the years, a neighborhood can change and even if your parent’s neighborhood relatively safe, they may feel vulnerable when they’re home alone. Today’s window guards don’t have to make their house look like a prison. Locking window guards keep criminals from breaking the glass and gaining entry and can be unlocked to allow escape and rescue in case of fire or another emergency.

Bonus Tip: More related to doors than windows, but so important it needs to be mentioned is that you teach your parents not to open the door to anyone they don’t know and who they aren’t expecting. Your parents might have grown up in the era of the door to door salesman, but today more often than not, somebody you don’t know coming to your door could be a criminal. Make sure they look out the window or through the peephole before they open the door.

3. Security System & Video Surveillance:

No! Don’t spy on your parents with a nanny cam! Your elderly parents probably aren’t used to security systems or might be used to the less reliable systems that existed in the 1970’s and 1980’s that more often than not were tripped by the family cat or a squirrel. Today’s security systems are more reliable and most of them come with subscriptions to a monitoring service with optional video cameras at entry points so would-be robbers and other criminals are always on camera.

Bonus Tip: It’s worth the extra money to purchase the maximum level of security monitoring, including a panic button your parents can push. In addition monitoring services have the added benefit of being able to call for help if your elderly parent has a medical emergency like a fall or heart attack and can’t call 911.

4. Fire & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Making sure your parents home has smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed that are up to date and have fresh batteries is crucial. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that’s deadly. Fires spread quickly and often seniors don’t move as quickly as other people so might not be able to get out before they become trapped. Plus, if they have a security system with a monitoring service, the same company can monitor the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well.

Bonus Tip: Even detectors that are hard-wired have backup batteries in case of power outages during a fire. However, the loud beeping of a dead battery alert can be unsettling for anyone and a nervous parent might be tempted to disable an annoying detector. Make sure you check the batteries at regular intervals and understand how to change them if your monitoring service doesn’t do it for you.

5. Motion Activated Lighting

Criminals avoid the light. You might think a bright light will help them, but the same light that could help them see to break in actually is more likely to illuminate what they’re doing to your neighbors and any regular police patrols through your neighborhood. Making sure motion activated lights are installed at the front and back of your aging parent’s home can help deter criminals and ensure they pass your parent’s house by.

Bonus Tip: Encourage your parents to get to know their neighbors so they aren’t so isolated. It can be hard if many of their friends have passed away or left the area. But making friends with new neighbors can keep everybody on their street safer. Who knows, they might even become part of a neighborhood watch group.

Conclusion

No security measure can guarantee 100% that your parent’s home won’t get broken into or that they’ll never be victimized by a con artist or other predator, but doing things like installing security screen doors, window guards and using a home security monitoring service will reduce their chance of being victimized and will help you have peace of mind while allowing them to age in place in their own home.

What do you think? Are you worried about aging parents? Have you tried using any of the above tips to help improve their security? Let us know in the comments below.

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This post was written by Writer