It is so interesting that as our parent’s age we become the ones that start to parent them. Not only do I worry about them inside their home in regards to personal safety and safety due to mobility but I worry about them with outsiders. I have read many studies that show senior citizens are the least targeted group for crimes I still however worry that one day someone will realize a vulnerable senior loves in the neighborhood. I worry about a physical assault as well as any other. I know it is more likely they will be taken advantage of financially then physically. All this tends to worry me. I can take care of the aging in place needs like a wheelchair accessible ramp but how can I make sure they are safe from predators?
The first tip I have involving the safety of senior citizens involves the wheelchair accessible ramps. When a home has a ramp that is visible from the street it basically tells all the people that drive by that someone elderly or disabled lives in this home. This is not the message that you want to send to the crooked people that exist in our world. Instead of having wheelchair accessible ramps installed at the front of the house add one to the back or side yard. In the side yard it is easy enough to put up decorative fencing or tall hedges to camouflage the ramp which in turn does not allow predators to know that a person that has limited mobility lives in the home.
It is also important to use locks that include a steel stopper. Believe it or not deadbolt locks can still be broken through. If you add a metal stopper it is nearly impossible for the door to be kicked in. Alarm systems also help keep our loved ones safe. When looking into alarm systems for parents who are aging in place that notify police, fire and ambulatory services. Security lights should be installed at different angles of the home. This is also valuable for seniors to be able to see out into the yard in the evening hours. I would also recommend that all sliding doors have locks and extra security rods put into place.
Make sure that a trusted neighbor has an extra key to the house. Thieves know all the hiding spots for spare keys. Don’t chance it. It is one hundred percent safer to leave a key with a neighbor in case of an emergency. I also really like the option of purchasing a realtor lock. This way if there is an emergency and entrance is needed a code could be given to EMS and they could obtain entry to your loved one.
Like my parents did to me when I was little I did to them now that they are aging. I sat them down and discussed the birds and bees of financial safety. I remind them that social security number and credit cards were something that should never be released to anyone over the phone or that comes to your door. In fact I have asked them not to open the door when they are not expecting visitors. Internet safety was something I addressed as well.
When my parents leave the house I always remind them to carry only one credit card and enough cash for their purchases. My dad has begun carrying his wallet in his front pocket and my mother is very careful to hold her purse close to her side. As they have aged there are limits on when they should be out verses home. My parents are home before dark so that it is easier for them to drive, park and enter the house again without problems. Using the handicap accessible ramp becomes difficult for my mom at night. When she is tired and has been going all day the level of strength she possesses has decreased and my dad does not have enough strength to help her.
For their safety and my piece of mind they allow me to help guide changes in their lives so that they can age in place instead of moving into assisted living. It seems to be a winning combination for us right now. As they continue to age and become less mobile we will discuss options but for now it works.