How Do I Keep Mom Safe from Harm?
I’m becoming ever more concerned about my mother and her safety. She lives alone in a single family home--the one she grew up in. She has very strong ties to that house, and refuses to look at other options.
I get it. No one wants to leave a comfortable home when it’s all they know. My concern is her safety. She is quite elderly and clearly alone in a big house. Her neighborhood has turned over, and she doesn’t know the new neighbors like she did the ones that were there before. The new neighbors are quite a bit younger, and she doesn’t socialize with them at all.
Mom drives to the store, though I don’t know how much longer that will occur. There are lots of windows in the house. Mom answers the door to anyone who knocks. She is such a little person, and the world feels less safe right now.
What are the best steps I can take to protect her?
It’s quite forward thinking of you to consider safety concerns for your mother before something happens. Too often, we react to an incident rather than prevent it. My hat is off to you for being proactive.
I would look at safety in three ways: the house, the community, and personal health.
Let’s start with the home. Safety applies to homeowners of all ages.
- Check the locks on her doors. Does she have deadbolts?
- Check the security of her windows. There are numerous solutions to prevent access via a window, from windows that don’t open, all the way to grills.
- Lock the doors and windows even when at home.
- Does the house look well maintained? Shrubs need to be trimmed, and porches should be visible from the street.
- Think about a dog that makes noise, or a barking dog alarm system.
- Cameras are great because they let potential thieves know you are watching.
- Vary your routines. For example, we all tend to shop at the same stores, on the same day each week, at approximately the same time. If a thief cases your house, they know when to strike.
- It’s time to get to know the new neighbors. It’s okay if they are not of her generation. Neighbors you know and who know you are more likely to notice anything that doesn’t look right. Keeping an eye out for each other is a strong positive and something we all should be doing.
Moving on to the community:
- Purses make women, especially older women, vulnerable. Tell your mother it’s time to ditch the large purse, or purses all together. These days, a driver’s license, credit card, and cell phone are all you need to go shopping.
- Wear great shoes that are comfortable and allow secure footing. Falls are likely her greatest risk.
- If a stranger approaches seeking money, a ride, or any form of assistance, keep moving and call help for them from your cell phone.
- Keep your car locked, with nothing in it. Park in well-lit lots near others.
Lastly, personal health:
- Stay active, using all muscle groups as best you can.
- Read and watch the news. Keep up on what’s going on in the community and the world. To know about scams and potential threats, one needs to be informed.
- Learn how to manage online security to protect accounts, assets, and credit.
- Share with your children. Discuss security and things you read and hear about. Information is key for knowing what to do and when to do it. Isolation from the greater community is the biggest danger to safety.
I realize these lists may seem like a lot, but hopefully most of the items are things your mother is already doing, plus a few new ideas for her to use that strengthen her safety.
I applaud your efforts to keep your mother safe and protect her. I wish you success on this journey.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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