If you have an elderly relative who lives alone, you may become concerned about their ability to continue to live safely in their home as they age, particularly if they have difficulties with mobility, balance or memory.
Here are some simple ways to ensure that your elderly relative is well cared for and supported.
Do you have an elderly relative that lives alone?
As we age, changes to mobility, vision, balance and memory can make simple household tasks more challenging and elderly family members may need more assistance and care in their home.
Unfortunately, it’s also true that elderly people tend to be more susceptible to break-ins and home intrusions than younger people and families because robbers perceive the elderly as an easier target.
With these factors in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 ways to ensure that your elderly relative is safe and well cared for at home.
How to protect your elderly relative against intruders
Crime is one of the biggest worries for older Australians. If you are concerned that your elderly relative might be vulnerable to a home robbery, here are several steps you and your loved one can take:
- Encourage them to keep any valuables out of sight.
- Install sheer blinds to obscure visibility from outside.
- Have a conversation about home security, reminding your elderly relative to always lock their doors and windows, even when in the house.
- Consider installing security measures such as a camera system or alarm system.
It’s a good idea to check their home’s exterior to make sure that burglars won’t be tempted by the possibility of an easy break-in.
Certain outdoor items may seem harmless but can actually help a burglar break into your home.
Consider removing the following items from their front yard:
- Shovels; and
- Loose bricks.
It’s also worth removing house keys that have been hidden in obvious spots such as under flowerpots or doormats.
As a rule, you should never leave a key hidden outside because no matter where you hide it, a burglar has already thought to look there.
Instead, use a key safe or make sure trusted regular visitors have a copy of the key.
Install barrier security measures
A security door is a vital security measure for any Australian home.
With an Australian Standards tested security screen guarding your elderly relative’s front door, they will be able to answer the door safely without opening their home to strangers and can easily leave the front door open for fresh air.
If your elderly relative’s home does not have a security door installed, or if their security door is faulty or outdated, call Jim’s Security Doors for a free consultation, measure and quote on 13 15 46.
Make sure they have enough fresh, nutritious food in the house
Nutrition is important as we age.
Eating a variety of fresh food helps to supply the nutrients a person needs as they age.
A healthy eating plan highlights fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dairy. These foods include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
Depending on your elderly relative’s health and capability, you may need to take them grocery shopping once a week.
If you can’t, it’s a good idea to look into a grocery delivery service where you can be confident they receive wholesome, nutritious food straight to their door every week.
Try a delivery service that allows you to switch out items you know your loved one will never use and add different things each week for variety.
Keep up with their home cleanliness
Keeping your loved one’s home clean and sanitary is a big part of ensuring they are well cared for.
But you may find that, while they are capable of living alone, they cannot keep up with the cleaning tasks.
In that case, it is important for their health that either you or another relative visit regularly to:
- Sanitise surfaces in the bathrooms and kitchen;
- Ensure dishes are clean;
- Take out rubbish;
- Change bedding as needed;
- Launder clothes; and
- Vacuum and mop floors.
Leaving these tasks for weeks at a time may lead to bacteria or mould build-up or insect and rodent infestations.
For a reliable and simple solution, it may be best to look into hiring a local domestic cleaning service to visit your relative’s home regularly to ensure that their home is clean and sanitary with a minimum of fuss.
Keep up to date with gardening chores
Not only is a well-maintained garden a pleasure to be in, but it is also an essential step to ensuring that your elderly relative is safe from trip hazards.
Imagine trying to get across an overgrown lawn to reach the washing line or veggie patch if your mobility is impaired.
To keep your elderly relative safe in their backyard, host a regular working bee with family to mow the lawns, trim back hedges, trees and shrubs, pick up fallen sticks and twigs and weed the garden beds.
If you can’t keep up with their outdoor maintenance for your relative, as a simple solution, consider hiring a regular gardener to visit and complete these tasks so that your elderly relative can enjoy their backyard safely.
Keep in regular contact
Whether you live close by or far away, it is important to keep in touch with your elderly relative for their safety and mental health.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression.
It’s a good idea to call them at the same time every day, not only for a chat but to know that they are safe.
You could also make contact in other ways – teach your elderly relative how to make video calls and use email, and you could even send them a letter in the mail now and then.
Especially for those older adults with mobility impairments, keeping them in contact with the outside world is vital to their health and wellbeing.
Safety in hot weather
It is essential to think about your elderly relative’s well-being during the heat with the warmer months approaching.
Older Australians are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat and can quickly succumb to heatstroke if their home cannot stay cool.
- Install an air conditioner, making sure that your loved one knows how to use it effectively; and
- Ensure they have adequate means of opening the house up to cool air once the daytime heat cools off, such as installing security doors and windows.
You can do a lot to ensure your elderly relative can age safely within their residence.
By taking the time to plan for emergencies, installing safety measures to protect them against burglars, helping them with domestic chores and keeping in regular contact, you can play your part in ensuring they are well cared for at home for years to come.
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