Home Security Tips for Elderly People
Home Security Tips for Elderly People
Nobody is fully protected all the time from the heinous crimes of burglary or scamming, but older people could be especially vulnerable to these offences. Burglars and scammers are generally very clever in planning and executing their misdeeds, and our elders might be more susceptible than most for reasons such as declining physical or cognitive function and increased isolation.
Therefore, if you have elderly relatives living on their own, it is vital that you check on them regularly and help them to ensure that they are kept as safe as possible from home security breaches. Full protection is impossible to achieve but keeping an eye out for them and advising them on how to be vigilant will help to reduce their chances of being burglarised or scammed.
Keep reading to find out how you can help to make elderly relatives and neighbours feel more secure in their homes.
Why are older people more vulnerable to security issues?
- Ailing health: Seniors are more likely than any other age group to live alone and, as they might not be in the fullest of health due to natural ageing, they could find it very difficult to protect themselves from burglars.
- Reduced cognitive function: Older people with dementia, or whose cognitive functions may have diminished, are easy targets for con artists and scammers who could blag their way into an older person’s home unchallenged or trick them with a phone/Internet scam.
- Routine behaviour: Older people tend to stick to the same routines every day (e.g. leaving their home at the same time to go to the shops), which makes it easy for criminals to deduce when their homes are unoccupied.
- Inner city crime rates: Many seniors reside in inner city locations for geographical convenience in case they need groceries or medical attention, but these locations could have above average crime rates.
- Less likely to report it: Criminals could perceive seniors to be less likely than others to report a crime that has been committed, increasing their chances of getting away with criminal behaviour.
Helpful home security measures
Medical alert systems
While the threat of a break-in is frightening, it is more probable that an elderly person will experience a health crisis. A medical alert system (described in further detail below) can be purchased in tandem with a home security setup.
Home automation systems can be programmed to switch on lights, alarms, etc. at specific times for defined durations. These have numerous benefits to seniors, such as creating the impression of a dynamic presence in the house (as different lights switch on and off) and switching off automatically in case the user forgets to do so. Also, many home automation systems are very user-friendly and require minimal technical expertise to set up and operate.
The presence of a doorbell camera at the entrance to a home is likely to deter burglars from proceeding with their malicious plans. They are easy to install and will almost certainly provide seniors with tremendous peace of mind. Also, the resident will be able to allow friends and family into the home remotely, saving them the need to walk to the door.
Medical alert devices for elderly
Medical alert devices enable users to summon emergency assistance by pressing (and holding) a button on a device that they’re carrying. Most medical alert systems also notify family members and carers that the user requires medical assistance. Here are some examples of medical alert devices that can be purchased for elderly people living alone or who may be vulnerable to crime.
Task Fall Detector
The device, which can be worn on your wrist like a watch, comes with a help call button in addition to an automatic fall detector which triggers the impact of a fall. The detector will diagnose a fall and, before an alert is transmitted, a vibration pre-alarm will kick in. This can be cancelled by the person wearing the device waving his/her arm, so that a false alarm isn’t sent. If the person falls and he/she is unable to press the button on the detector, an alarm is sent so that a carer is alerted and can act accordingly.
If the bracelet detects hypothermia in an older person for five minutes, it will sound a 60-second alarm every 5-15 minutes and an orange light will blink every five seconds so that the carer is alerted and can respond. Once the person has been sufficiently warmed, the bracelet will emit a blue blinking light every 30 seconds. If the elderly person is not wearing the bracelet, a white light will blink every 30 seconds and no alarm sound will be heard.
Home security tips
Follow these important security tips to ensure that elderly relatives stay safe in their homes.
- Keep windows & outer doors locked: Seniors should always lock windows and outer doors, even when at home, as these would allow burglars to easily gain entry to a house. Even if the property owner is at home, they could be upstairs and might not notice a burglar walking through the front or back door.
- Ensure that the front door has a peephole: A peephole in the front door enables the occupant to discreetly see who is outside without having to answer it. If the occupant has any reason not to trust the person at the door, they should not open their door. Also, it’s recommended to keep a phone close to the front door so that, if the occupant suspects that something unlawful is going on, they can call the police immediately.
- Reinforce the home’s weak points: If you are a qualified tradesperson, or if you know of one, get the doors and windows reinforced for an extra layer of security. Solid wood or metal doors, along with double-glazed or triple-glazed windows, will make it more difficult for burglars to gain unlawful access to the property.
- Never leave keys hidden outside your home: Even a novice burglar would check under any exterior mats and flowerpots in case the homeowner has left a key there. If a senior citizen is going away for a few days, it’s best to leave the house key with a family member or trusted neighbour.
- Obscure outside views as much as possible: Window blinds are very effective in obscuring the view of the room from the outside, so it helps to keep these drawn regularly. Also, try not to leave valuable items in clear view from windows. If a potential burglar sees electronics or jewellery from outside, they’ll be much more tempted to break in.
- Keep garden equipment hidden: Don’t leave garden equipment such as ladders, hammers or screwdrivers lying around, as burglars could use these to gain unlawful entry to the home.
- Keep personal information securely locked: Burglars could look to swipe passports, financial details or other sensitive personal information from people’s homes, so these should be kept locked in secure storage.
- Don’t advertise travel plans: Elderly people who use social media might be tempted to excitedly announce their impending holiday, but this could play into the hands of burglars who know that the home will be unoccupied. Only let family and close friends know if you’re going away for a few days.