Today, roughly 28% of seniors live alone. This adds up to nearly 12.5 million people.
While many seniors enjoy living alone and want to maintain their independence for as long as possible, living alone can pose some serious security threats to seniors.
Luckily, there are ways to ensure that living alone is safer for seniors around the country. Read on to learn more.
14 Simple Safety Tips for Seniors Who Live Alone
For many seniors, living alone is ideal. Whether they want to continue driving, caring for themselves, or interacting with their friends and communities in the ways that they always have, living alone is a major benefit for many seniors around the country. For seniors who want to continue living alone as long as possible, these fourteen safety tips can help maintain independence and security for years to come.
1. Stay in good health
One of the biggest risks for seniors who live alone is injury. If a senior slips and falls and there is nobody around to help, a simple concussion could quickly become life-threatening. Because of this, it’s essential for seniors who live alone to stay as healthy as possible. Things like exercise, a healthy diet, an active social life, and drinking plenty of water drastically cut down on the health risks that face solitary seniors, and make it much easier for seniors to remain safe and happy in their own homes.
2. Build a close circle of friends
Senior isolation is a big problem, and it’s one of the single most dangerous things for seniors who live alone. While living alone doesn’t always mean being lonely, the two things go hand-in-hand for many seniors, and it’s a potentially life-threatening mixture of things.
According to a 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, senior isolation has a dramatic impact on mortality rates: increasing them markedly in seniors ages 52 and older. What’s more, senior isolation can contribute to depression, poor health, and the worsening of cognitive decline.
With that in mind, it’s clear that one of the primary things seniors living alone can do to stay safe and healthy is to maintain an active social life. Seeing friends on a regular basis is a fantastic way to boost health and wellbeing and to develop a support system so that, if anything does go wrong, the senior has people to call on.
3. Keep plenty of medication on hand
If a senior who lives alone runs out of medication, it can be a devastating situation. Because of this, specialists recommend that the senior keep extra medication on hand so that running out prematurely doesn’t lead to a disastrous event. In addition to preventing frantic trips to the pharmacy, this approach also makes it easier to stay on track in the event that a senior misplaces his or her medication.
4. Develop a disaster kit
All people (and especially seniors) should have a disaster preparedness kit on hand. This kit, meant to be used in the event of power outages, freezing weather, or natural disasters, should include survival supplies like dried food, blankets, bottled water, flashlights, matches, candles, and medical supplies. Ideal for tending to one’s own needs while help arrives, this simple little disaster kit can make severe weather or rolling blackouts easier for a senior to endure on his or her own.
5. Keep the home in good repair
A home that features preventable hazards like exposed cords or slippery stairs is dangerous for seniors who live alone. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that 1.6 million seniors go to the emergency room as the result of falls each year. With this in mind, keep the home in good repair to prevent dangerous hazards that could harm a senior.
6. Lock doors and windows
When a senior lives alone, the risk of theft and burglary is very real. Because of this, it’s wise for seniors to be smart about home security. This means locking doors and windows and ensuring that the entire house is locked up when nobody is home. In addition to preventing break-ins, this step also helps ensure that the senior’s safety stays intact.
7. Consider an alert system
In the last several years, there have been several new senior alert systems to hit the market. Things like Life Alert and similar alert systems can be very helpful for seniors who live alone. In the event of a fall or accident, the senior just presses a button (worn on a necklace most commonly) and help is summoned. This is an excellent idea for any senior who lives alone.
8. Install a peephole in the door
Seniors are often targeted by scammers and thieves. Because of this, it’s smart for all seniors to install peepholes in their doors so that they can keep tabs on who is knocking before they decide to open the door. While this is a simple security tip, it’s one that can go a long way toward ensuring the senior’s safety and security for years to come.
9. Install a home security system
Depending on a senior’s needs and requirements, a home security system is a wonderful way to keep the senior safe and secure. Available in various configurations and options, home security systems keep a visual eye on the home and property so that the senior (or his or her family members) can keep an eye on the goings-on and spot any suspicious activity.
10. Develop a list of emergency contacts
Emergency contacts are critical for any senior who lives alone. To ensure safety and proper care in the event of an accident or injury, all seniors should develop a list of emergency contacts and keep it by the phone. This list should include the senior’s medical professionals, family members, and friends.
11. Install motion-activated lights
Motion-activated lights help spot suspicious activity and stop it in its tracks. For the utmost in safety and security, install these lights over prominent windows and doors on the senior’s property. This helps prevent break-ins and ensures that the neighbors or passers-by can spot an attempted burglary if one were to take place.
12. Have friends or family pick up packages when the senior travels
If the senior goes away to visit friends or family for a period, a friend or family member should retrieve the senior’s mail and packages from the doorstep so that the house doesn’t look vacant. This can discourage would-be thieves and help keep the property safer.
13. Install handholds and bars in the bathroom
The bathroom is a very dangerous place for seniors who live alone. Thanks to water and slippery floors, this is one of the highest-risk places for a fall. Because of this, seniors should consider installing handholds and bars in the bathroom (around the shower and toilet) to make falls less likely.
Seniors who live alone should check in often with friends and family members. This allows the support system to help if something is awry and makes it easier for loved ones to spot potential dangers.
Senior Security Starts Here
For seniors who live alone, home security is a real concern. Luckily, these simple tips make it easier for seniors to stay safe in their own homes, both now and in the future.