If you’re a senior living alone, you’re in good company: According to the Pew Research Center, 12 million Americans over the age of 65 are the sole occupants in their homes. And while living alone certainly has its perks–like not having to consult anyone about what time to eat dinner or which shows to watch, it’s not without risk. Falls, accidents and power outages can be especially scary when you’re flying solo.
Stay safe with these simple tips to make your home the safe-haven you want it to be.
Fall-Proof Your House
One of the scariest things about living alone, especially for seniors, is the potential to fall. The Institute on Aging estimates that one in four seniors falls every year. Scary stuff when you consider the National Council on Aging’s findings that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
But falls are not inevitable. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take to protect yourself against them. First, move tripping hazards such as wires and cords out of your walking path and make sure your bathroom and other hard surfaces in your house are covered with large, slip-free mats or carpets. Consider investing in a few nightlights to keep around the house to light your path if you have to get up in the middle of the night. And try to engage in regular balance-building exercises, like yoga or swimming, which will better prepare you to catch yourself should you start falling.
Keep a Flashlight and Batteries on Every Floor
Be prepared for power outages by keeping flashlights and batteries or candles and a lighter or matches on each floor of your house. Put them in easily accessible locations, like in a kitchen drawer and in your bedside table. Be sure to test the flashlight before you actually need it.
Also, be sure you know how to reset your power box, so you’re ready if the need ever arises.
Have a Phone Charger in Several Rooms of Your House
Even if you have a landline, keeping a cell phone close by is always a good idea since it enables you to move about your home without feeling locked down. But since a dying cell phone is of no use to anyone, always make it easy to keep your cell fully charged by placing phone chargers throughout your home–and even in your car. Make a habit of plugging your phone in each time you enter a new room, and you’ll never have to worry about the battery dying when you need it most.
Make Sure Your Contact List is Updated
Speaking of phones, make sure you have the most up-to-date phone numbers for the local police and fire company, as well as your doctor and closest family members programmed into your phone or, if you only use a landline, in a legible list directly next to your landline. That way, if an emergency happens, you won’t waste time searching for a contact’s number.
Make Sure Your Fire Alarm Works and Have an Exit Plan
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. Make sure yours is properly installed and test it once a month. You’ll also want to replace all smoke alarms at least every 10 years.
And make sure you have an exit plan in the event of a fire. Map out how you would escape your home should a fire occur in your kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., since the plan may change depending on the fire’s location.
Set Up Regular Check-Ins with a Loved One
Stay connected by scheduling regular weekly phone calls with family members or friends or setting up check-ins with neighbors. If your loved ones know you typically call them every Tuesday at 7 p.m., and one Tuesday evening you don’t, they’ll know to follow up.
You’ll both feel better knowing you’re OK and they’re OK–it’s a win-win!
Invest in a Medical Alert System
With a Medical Alert system, you’ll get the ultimate peace of mind while living alone. A simple push of a button will initiate instant contact with an emergency response operator, who will determine the help you need then send the appropriate response team.
Medical Alert offers a variety of these systems, including medical alert devices that can be used at home and ones that can be taken with you outside of your house. All are lightweight and waterproof, so you can always keep them on you–even in the shower.
With both Medical Alert’s at-home and mobile systems, you’ll get 24/7 monitoring, so help is always just a button push away, whether it’s 1 p.m. or 1 a.m. Medical Alert also offers Fall Detection technology, which means a highly trained emergency operator will be alerted when you fall–even if you can’t push your button.
If you’re looking for security and safety while living alone, investing in a Medical Alert system is a no-brainer.