Many of our older loved ones enjoy their independence. However, it is essential to recognize that aging can introduce safety issues where before there were none. Consult this ultimate guide for seniors to ensure the safety of your senior loved ones.
Basic Tips for Senior Safety Through the Home
Home upkeep can be challenging even for those who are young and in good health, but for seniors, the home can present various dangers that may be prevented with a few quick changes. The home safety checklist for seniors below will help you ensure senior safety for all elderly persons living in the home.
Safety for the elderly tips include:
- Install a medical alert system - Technology has made it easier to keep an eye on a loved one, and the market has many senior safety products for the home. Some personal safety devices for the elderly include Apple Watch (which can call 911 if the senior falls) or a medical alert bracelet or necklace they can wear and push a button to ask for help when they need it. Other safety devices include home security cameras so you can check in and see that your loved one is safe.
- Fire, smoke, and poison detection - Purchase and install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers on every floor.
- Check the lighting - Ensure that hallways, staircases, and all rooms are well-lit to avoid falls and injuries. Check the entire house and increase light bulb wattage to illuminate dark areas. Many seniors suffer from poor eyesight. Install nightlights, too, so that seniors can safely use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Bathroom safety - To ensure senior safety in the bathroom, install grab bars in the shower, a shower chair, and shatterproof shower doors. Put down a rubber mat in the tub to prevent slipping.
- Review trip and fall areas - Rugs, toys, and other hazards can cause a senior to trip and fall and potentially injure themselves seriously. Do a thorough evolution of every room and remove all tripping threats, especially near stairs.
- Kitchen safety - Assess the kitchen for safety hazards and move items down that are too high to reach. Consider a touchless faucet so your elder won't have to struggle to use the sink. Get rid of any rugs that may present a tripping hazard.
- Remove clutter throughout the home for safety - Clutter can be a source of stress for seniors but can also result in trips and injuries. Clean up the house and help your senior keep it clean.
- Make the phone easily accessible - Keep the phone in a place where your senior can easily reach it if they need help.
- Stairlift - If your senior cannot manage the stairs any longer, consider installing a stairlift system. Be sure to tighten and secure hand railings, especially if your senior puts a lot of weight on them for support.
- Rearrange the furniture - Remove excess furniture and move pieces around so your loved one can get around easily.
Use this home safety checklist for seniors to create a safe environment for your loved ones and provide you with peace of mind.
Senior Driving Safety
You can also outfit your senior's vehicle with a steering wheel lock or car alarm to protect your loved one from vehicle theft.
Consult your local Department of Motor Vehicles to determine the criteria to evaluate whether your senior should still be driving. Most DMVs require annual driving and vision tests, but you can keep an eye on things and determine early when it might be time to quit driving.
Technology and Safety for Seniors
Technology can lend a huge hand when it comes to keeping older adults safe. If you have been wondering how to make a smart home for the safety of the elderly, review the tips below to find out.
Some safety tips for the elderly include:
- Door guards - Install door guards to keep forgetful seniors from wandering away from home.
- GPS smartwatches - Have your loved one wear a smartwatch with GPS enabled so you can locate them if they get lost.
- Anti-scalding device - For seniors who have reduced tactile sensitivity, an anti-scalding device can help prevent burns.
- Smart-home speakers - To ensure smart home safety for the elderly, install voice-activated speakers so seniors can communicate with other people in the house or call or help if they have an accident and need help.
- Monitoring system - Install a house-wide monitoring system with cameras and microphones to keep a close eye on your loved ones and ensure they are safe. Being able to view them remotely also allows you to call for help in an emergency if they cannot.
- Smart doorbell - Install a smart doorbell so your senior can see who is at the door without getting up, and they can feel more secure knowing who is outside before opening the door to strangers.
- Trained service dogs - Trained service dogs or other therapy pets are an excellent companion for a senior living alone. Not only do they provide comfort, support, and unconditional love, some are trained to call for help in the event of an emergency.
Internet Safety Guide for Elderly
The internet is a great resource but can also be challenging for older adults. Many cybercriminals target seniors, thus the need for internet safety for seniors.
Some tips regarding cyber safety for the elderly include:
- Protect your computer - Keep your loved one's computer protected by locking it with a password and keeping it in a safe place. Do not allow teens or young children access to the computer. Disable camera and microphone access when the computer is not in use.
- Passwords: your first line of defense - Teach your senior how to create safe passwords and install a password vault so only have to remember one. The password vault will also log them in safely to each website account.
- Install a firewall - If the PC or Mac does not have a firewall, install one and configure it to the highest security settings. Sometimes you can install one directly on the router. Some ISPs like Xfinity have built-in security features like a firewall and intruder alerts.
- Install an antivirus program - Seniors should install reputable antivirus/anti-malware software on their computer and run scans often.
- Installing ad blockers - Most browsers come equipped with ad blockers. Be sure to turn them on for your senior so they don't get inundated with ads popping up or unwanted distractions.
- Use complex passwords - Whenever signing up for a new account or service, instruct your senior to use a long, complex password made up of (at least 8 characters) numbers, letters, and symbols. Never reuse passwords on multiple websites; always create a unique one for each account.
- Turn on multi-factor authentication - Whenever it is offered, turn on biometrics or multi-factor authentication to keep accounts safe.
- Learn computer safety tips- Something like never click a link or download attachments in email is one good safety tip. Look online for other computer safety best practices.
Avoiding Scams Targeted at Seniors
Seniors are highly susceptible to scams; some are targeted specifically for them. Some common scams and signs of each are:
- Email scams - Phishing scams are common and usually use scary language, urge you to click a link or download something and often look very legitimate.
- Phone scams - If a stranger calls you and asks for your credit card number or other information, hang up the phone. Any unsolicited request for information may be a scam.
- Tax scams and banking scams - Fraudsters may submit tax returns in your name and cash refund checks. They may also send texts or emails pretending to be your bank to get you to hand over logins so they can steal your money. Protect your logins and social security number at all costs.
- Security software scams - If you see a pop up on your screen claiming your device is infected, and you need to purchase software to fix it, that is a scam. Do not click it, and do not call the number on the screen. Never let anyone that you don't know, or trust take remote control of your computer.
- Social security scams - Dozens of social security scams threaten to cut off your benefits if you do not comply with the request for information or pay a fee. Do not fall for it.
- Lottery scams - If you receive word that you won the lottery without even playing, it is a scam.
- Romance/catfishing scams - Many seniors look for love or companionship online; this makes them vulnerable to romance scams and other types of fraud. Watch out for anyone who requests money, moves too fast, or avoids meeting face-to-face. Many scammers pretend to be someone they are not.
- Grandparent scams - A call in the middle of the night and a voice pretending to be a grandchild has become a common senior scam. Never give out banking, credit card, or other payment information over the phone to anyone.
- Sextortion scams - Scammers use fear to scare you into thinking they have pictures or videos of you and try to extort money. Most often, they do not, and it is a scam. Do not be fooled.
- Covid 19 scams - Fear around Covid-19 has encouraged many new scams. Always consult your physician or a trusted source, do not respond to unsolicited ads for things regarding the pandemic.
Some online safety for the elderly tips to help avoid scams and enjoy a safe online experience include:
- Secure online banking - Never log onto bank sites from public Wi-Fi and invest in a VPN to secure your online banking and keep your accounts safe. Look online for more online banking tips to keep your funds out of the hands of hackers.
- Making safe online purchases - only buy from trusted sources and always look for the lock next to the URL, ensuring that your data is encrypted.
- Protecting your identity - Use an email lookup or reverse phone lookup tool to check people out before handing over information. Keep a close eye on your social security number and review public records to see if any of your data is exposed. Sign up for identity theft monitoring.
- Safe social networking - You can use a username search tool to find out who owns a social networking account to stay away from catfishers and other imposters. Don't be fooled by fake social media ads.
- Recognizing legitimate websites - Always look at the URL to ensure you landed on the right page. Check for the little lock ensuring your data is encrypted and never click links in email, social media, or text messages. These can take you to fake, malicious websites.
- Breached? Here's what you need to do - Check all your accounts for fraud. Get a copy of your credit report, change all your passwords immediately, and sign up for credit and identity theft monitoring.
The internet doesn't have to be a scary place. Armed with the safety precautions above and using common sense, you can enjoy your online experience and stay safe.