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According to the US Census Bureau, 11 million, or 28% of people 65 and older live at home. While many seniors enjoy living alone and want to maintain their independence for as long as possible, living alone can pose safety and security threats for seniors.
In honor of National Safety Month, held each June, now is a great time to make sure you are taking the appropriate steps to ensure safety at home. Follow these five simple steps.
- Build a Close Social Circle
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 significantly in seniors ages 52 and older. Plus, senior isolation can contribute to depression, poor health, and the worsening of cognitive decline.
Knowing these statistics, maintaining an active social life is very important for seniors living alone. Seeing friends and family on a regular basis is a fantastic way to boost health and wellbeing and to develop a support system so that you can ask for help or assistance if needed.
Additionally, seniors who live alone should get to know their neighbors. Not only does this build a better sense of security, but it also can help create a network of support from which seniors can draw, in the event of an emergency.
- Prevent Tripping and Falling
The National Institutes of Health reports that 1.6 million seniors go to the emergency room as the result of falls each year. One of the most important safety measures for the seniors living alone is removing tripping and falling hazards. Make sure rooms are properly lit; handrails are installed in appropriate places; and floors and staircases are free of obstructions that might cause a fall.
- Improve Fire Safety
Improving home safety for seniors includes keeping a close eye on fire safety in the home. Make sure smoke detectors are fully functional, and keep fire extinguishers in easy-to-reach places near the oven or stove.
- Take Good Home Security Measures
When a senior lives alone, there is a risk of theft and burglary. Because of this, it’s wise for seniors to be focused on home security. This means locking doors and windows at all times, especially when nobody is home. In addition to preventing break-ins with locks, make sure your entry door has a peephole. Often times scammers and thieves target seniors, so it is important to know who is at the door before you open it. Furthermore, installing a home security system with motion-activated lights and cameras can be a powerful deterrent to home intruders who prey on seniors.
- Always Have Emergency Numbers Accessible
In the event of an emergency, seniors who live alone should have quick access to the people who can help them. Keeping a list of emergency numbers — including emergency services, medical professionals, and family contacts — written out near the phone or programmed into a smartphone, can mean help will be just moments away in case of trouble.