Safety and Security Measures for Your Parents

An old-fashion safe with brass handle and a combination lock

By Doug Mabey

As individuals age, their children tend to take more responsibility for ensuring their well-being. It’s not practical to be there all the time, but it is possible to have measures in place that allow your parents to continue live safely and independently.

This article discusses both safety and security measures. What is the difference? Safety measures are those taken to prevent threats that are unintended, most often inside the home. Security measures are those taken to prevent deliberate threats from the outside.

Safety Measures

As the human body ages, physical changes make us more susceptible to falls, and to being injured when we do fall. Taking a few simple precautions can prevent a broken hip, head injury or worse. A gentle reminder to Mom or Dad may help keep them safe from falls.

  • Throw Rugs: Throw rugs are a common trip hazard. It is best to have carpet or to do without rugs altogether. If rugs must be used, be sure they are secured firmly to the floor. One mat that should be in every home is a rubber mat in the tub to prevent slipping.
  • Clutter: A place for everything and everything in its place is a great policy. Leaving shoes out, stacks of magazines or clothes on the floor and having too much furniture for the size of the room all increase the likelihood of falling. There should be enough space in walkways for emergency personnel to access any room in the house easily with their equipment.
  • Handrails and Grab Bars: Make sure there are stable handrails at each stairway. In the bathroom, grab bars should be installed near toilets and in showers/tubs. Also, consider a shower chair for extra stability.
  • Climbing: Climbing on a stepstool or chair to reach something can be risky. Keep frequently used dishes and items within easy reach and ask for help with items that are not. (While visiting your parents, be sure to change smoke alarm batteries and lightbulbs in overhead lighting. Having it done regularly will keep them from having to do it themselves. After all, who can sleep when the smoke alarm battery is chirping?)
  • Lighting: Adequate lighting is important as our vision changes, particularly at night for trips to the bathroom. Bright nightlights lining the path can prevent fumbling in the dark.
  • Emergency Alert: Consider getting an emergency alert monitor that can contact someone in case of a medical emergency. They are a great way to get help fast.

Security Measures

Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted by criminals. A few security precautions can put your loved ones’ mind, and yours, at ease. The following are good reminders to share.

  • Locks: Keep all doors and windows locked, even when leaving “for just a minute.” Also, avoid leaving anything of value in a vehicle overnight.
  • Strangers: Never let strangers in the home when home alone. If a repair is needed, verify that the person at the door was actually sent from the company.
  • Safe: Investing in a small safe provides a secure space to keep important documents and valuables. It is also important only to share the code with a few trusted people. Codes, PINs and passwords should never be sent by email where someone might intercept it.
  • Shredder: Tossing sensitive documents in the trash leaves your personal information open to criminals. They can open accounts in your name or substitute your address for theirs on your existing accounts. An inexpensive crosscut shredder allows you to discard documents safely.
  • Fraud: Today’s technology makes it easier for thieves to get our personal information (Social Security number, payment information, passwords) by impersonating businesses and organizations. Never share personal information with anyone who initiates contact with you. If a rep. from a company you do business with calls and asks for your personal information, it may be fraud. Hang up and call the company back at the number on your account information. Scammers reach out daily through the phone, mail and online. Never click on links in an email from someone you do not know. Notifications that you have won a sweepstakes that you never entered or for which you must pay a fee to get your winnings are always “Door to door” repair workers are frequently scammers also. When hiring, make sure you initiated the contact and go through a reputable company. Always be sure you know who you are talking to before you hire or give out personal information. When in doubt, check it out.

These safety and security measures can provide a safe haven for your loved ones, while continuing their independence. No matter where they live, it’s worth taking the time to follow these tips for creating a safe environment for your parents or loved ones.

Doug Mabey serves as Risk Management Associate for ACV and has been the Director of Camp Suwannee since 2005. He is also the Youth Pastor at the First Advent Christian Church in Live Oak. Doug and his wife Lynn have been married for 30 years. They have four children and one granddaughter.

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