When making care arrangements for your loved one, it’s easy to overlook the basics—home elderly security being one of the most important. If your loved one lives alone, they may be more vulnerable to insistent door-to-door salesmen or malicious scams.
We’re here to offer you some useful tips to ensure your loved one’s house remains a home—a place they can feel safe and sound.
Although it’s hard to stop scammers and opportunists from achieving your goals, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent your loved one from becoming a target.
Get an assessment:
Arrange a safety assessment for your loved one’s property, by getting in touch with Age UK or your local council. They will also be able to offer you tailored advice on optimising your loved one’s home security.
Do the basics:
Make sure all doors and windows are secure and in working order, and that all sliding door-locks are up-to-date (old sliding doors are subject to a good number of break-ins). Check that all doors and windows bear the BSI Kitemark that proves that equipment is up to UK health-and-safety standards.
Make sure the services you use are all trusted. AgeUk’s Safer Services programme lists local safe services. We also have other advice on how to find safe carers, which you can find here.
Install an alarm system:
By installing a home safety alarm, you are taking a big step in ensuring your loved one’s safety. Check online to find the most suitable safety device for your loved one—one without too many complex activation procedures is preferable for elderly users. These security systems can also be set up to directly notify the police in the case of an emergency, giving your loved one the peace of mind they deserve.
Set up a doorbell camera:
Another device which can help ensure home safety is a doorbell camera. These security cameras will help you and your loved one know who is at the door before you answer, reducing the risk of getting caught up with scammers or opportunists. They also serve as a deterrent to scammers, who need to show their face to gain your loved one’s confidence, so simply cannot approach houses with these devices and expect to get away with a scam.
Many doorbell cameras come equipped with a microphone, so you can confirm the identity of the knocker prior to opening. Most security cameras can be linked up to mobile phone devices, so you can see who’s at the door remotely, and advise your loved one from afar if necessary.
Acquire a key safe:
Key safes are easy to purchase, either online or from your local supermarket. Key safes open via a set passcode. This can it easy for trusted service people to enter, without the door key leaving the premises to be copied. Be sure to only share this code with people who have permission to enter your loved one’s home, such as family, friends, or carers. The quality and security of key safes can vary, so be sure to search for a secure, good value model before purchasing. When opening the key safe, always be sure to check around you as you enter the passcode, and make sure the safe itself is fixed somewhere outside of plain sight.
When setting the code, avoid using obvious sequences such as your loved one’s birth year (i.e. ‘1940’).
If your loved one lives in sheltered accommodation, consider devising a verbal password to exchange over the intercom, so they can be sure that only trusted people are allowed entry into their home.
Light sensors are another great way to enhance your loved one’s home security. Sensors are best placed close to the front door and up the paths to the front and back of the home. These safety devices help your loved one to see where they’re stepping at night, whilst also flagging up potential intruders. However, do remember that motion sensors may also trigger in response to animals such as cats or foxes, and may not always indicate a would-be intruder.
Have neighbours use your loved one’s driveway:
The driveways of elderly people are often under-used, and having an old, unused vehicle sitting in the driveway can make the property seem like an easy target for criminals. By having neighbours come and go, the house will appear busy and will seem like less of an obvious target.
Keep the garden well-maintained:
Like keeping the driveway in use, having a well-kept garden will help to deter burglars and opportunists.
Consider installing internal lights with automatic timers, so that different lights come on at different points in the day. This, again, will make your loved one’s home seem busy, and ensure they are less likely to be targeted.
Also, make sure that carers and visitors open and close the curtains and turn lights on and off throughout the day.
Stay overnight if possible:
If you can, have someone stay overnight on occasions, to create extra movement in the home. This is a cheap and easy safety strategy, with the added bonus of giving your loved one some company.
Ask a neighbour to keep watch:
By having a neighbour keep an eye on your loved one’s property, you can identify anything unusual early on. Make sure the neighbours have your contact details, so they can notify you of any suspicious goings-on.
Make sure the telephone is within reach:
To ensure your loved one’s peace of mind, make sure their phone is easily within reach and pre-programmed with any emergency numbers. You may also want to put together a list of useful numbers, so they don’t forget which speed-dial key to press for who. Specially designed phones for elderly people are available relatively cheaply: these come with large buttons and extra-loud settings.
Be sure to fit a chain to the front and back doors. By double-locking, you reduce the risk of breaking-and-entering significantly. Fitting a letterbox cage can help to prevent people from getting their hands through to the locks.
Panic buttons and life-lines:
Though panic buttons and lif- lines are usually worn around the wrist in case of a fall, they also double up as a handy security device and can be used to contact the police or next of kin in the case of an emergency.
For further tips on improving your loved one’s home security, visit: