26 Home Security Tips for Seniors
Home security is important for everyone, but especially seniors. Elderly home owners can be especially vulnerable to burglaries and attacks at home, as they may be seen as easy prey and targeted for victimization. A home security system can help elderly home owners remain safe and independent at home for a longer period of time. With a home security system and these tips, seniors can take steps to stay safer at home:
Home Security Tips for Seniors
- Lock all doors and windows: Whether you're at home or not, all doors and windows must be locked. All it takes is one open passageway for a burglar to gain access to your home.
- Never enter your home if a door or window is breached: If you notice your door is open or a window is broken, don't go inside. Leave the area and then call the police. Avoid entering the home, as a dangerous burglar may still be inside.
- Keep a phone nearby: A senior's phone should always be easily accessible in case of emergency. It could be needed right away if there's a burglar -- or a medical emergency.
- Install a solid wood or metal door: A strong door with adequate reinforcement and a strong frame will help to deter burglars. Deadbolt locks should be installed on all exterior doors, and decorative door glass should be safety glass with privacy film.
- Install a peephole: It's essential that you know who is on the other side of your door. Always check your peephole to make sure you know the person on the other side.
- Bring your phone with you to the door: Any time you answer the door, take your phone with you in case you need to call for help.
- Don't feel pressured to open the door: For burglaries and home invasions, nothing is easier than an open door. Simply opening your door a crack to speak to a person on the other side may be all they need to get in and ransack your home -- and even cause injury or death. Be sure you know who you're opening the door to and don't be afraid to say you're not interested through a closed door.
- Ask for ID: If you decide to open the door for a solicitor or other visitor, be sure to ask for their ID. Make sure they are who they say they are and work for who they say before you consider giving them your business.
- Don't leave a spare key accessible: Burglars can quickly find spare key hiding spaces. Rather than hiding a key, simply leave one with a friend, family member, or trusted neighbor.
- Know your neighbors: Make friends with your neighbors so they'll have an extra set of eyes watching out for you. You can also ask them to keep an extra close eye on your home if you're out of town as they pick up mail, rotate cars, and turn lights on and off.
- Keep your home well lit and install motion sensor lights: Bright motion sensor lights will make burglars nervous and easier for neighbors to spot.
- Add security film to windows: Using plexiglass or security film can make it more difficult for burglars to break in. They are safer and often deter burglars from using windows as an entry point.
- Have monthly checks sent electronically: Avoid theft from mailboxes by setting up direct transfers for monthly checks such as social security. Thieves can often deduce when seniors will receive these checks and steal them from the mail.
- Ask police for a home security check: Contact the local police department and ask them to perform a home security check. They'll highlight any details that could be changed to make your home more secure.
- Keep valuables in a safe: Small family heirlooms, jewelry you're not wearing, important papers, and other valuables should be stored in a safe. Keep the combination or keys secure, only sharing them with those you trust.
- Get a home security alarm: Ultimately, the best protection against burglars is a home security alarm. With a home security alarm, burglars will be deterred from breaking in. And if they're able to break in, they'll be more likely to be scared away and/or caught quickly.
Home Security Considerations for Seniors
Home security systems aren't one size fits all, and seniors can benefit from some home security features more than others. If you're researching home security systems for seniors, consider using these features and details that can be especially helpful for elderly home owners:
- Use a medical alert system: With a medical alert system, elderly home owners can be guarded against medical emergencies. Seniors can get help right away if they fall or have another serious medical incident rather than waiting to be found or struggling to reach a phone. Usually, a medical alert system can be activated just by pushing a button to get help 24 hours a day seven days a week.
- Invest in home automation: Using home automation, elderly home owners won't have to remember or worry about details like setting the thermostat, turning on security lights, or even locking doors. Even when they're forgetful, the home automation system will remember to keep their home secure.
- Use remote control access: Whether retirees are traveling the world or need help managing their home, remote control access can help. Elderly people who travel frequently will rest easy knowing they can check in on their home and manage security and automation from anywhere in the world. Alternatively, elderly home owners who have trouble managing home security technology can easily get help from children and caregivers who can manage their security system remotely on their behalf. The system can notify caregivers if the home owner forgets to close a door or window and send an alert if there's anything picked up on a motion detector camera.
- Get video surveillance: Elderly home owners may be vulnerable to unscrupulous caregivers and medical staff, and while most can be trusted, it's better to be safe than sorry. Hidden video surveillance similar to nanny cams can be used to prevent and identify theft in the elderly home. And if the home owner desires privacy, the camera can be turned off.
- Use water detection sensors: Seniors may have difficulty walking down basement stairs or checking under cabinets to find leaks. Using water sensors, seniors will be alerted to these issues even if they can't reach certain areas due to mobility issues.
- Get a wireless home security system: Independent seniors may not stay in the same place for several years, instead moving to assisted living or downsizing to a smaller home in later years. A wireless home security system can easily move with them, as opposed to a wired home security system that might stay with the home where it's installed.
- Use battery backup: If your home security system is hooked up to your home's power, be sure that you have a battery backup for the base unit that can provide power if the lights go out.
- Consider an alert necklace or bracelet: In an emergency, your phone or alarm keypad may be too far away to reach safely and quickly. Using an alert necklace or bracelet, you can call for help without moving from where you are.
- Get smoke and fire monitoring: Most home security systems today will include smoke and fire monitoring, but be sure you get these important alerts so that dispatchers can send help if you're unable to call 911 during an emergency.
- Ask for a thorough demonstration: The installer should be able to clearly show how the system works, what it does, and what to do in case of an emergency.