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Age UK data shows that there are currently 3.6 million people over the age of 65 living alone in the UK. It’s likely that many of these people will regularly see their children and grandchildren, however some may not have any family to turn to for comfort and conversation.
If one of these 3.6 million people is you, there may be times when you don’t feel safe living at home alone. It could be that you feel vulnerable or that you’re worried about falling when no one is around. Below, we’ve suggested some things you can do to make you feel safer at home.
There are tons of devices that you could have installed to make your home a more secure place. These include:
Less than half of homes in the UK have burglar alarms, but they can be extremely useful. The alarm can be set at night to deter potential thieves and alert you and your neighbours to any disturbances. Window alarms might also be a good feature to install too. If it has been set and a window is opened, a loud noise will sound.
You could have security lights installed outside your home. These automatic lights are usually activated when they detect movement. They can also light up the front of your house, which makes it easier for you or a doorbell camera to see out. A doorbell camera allows you to see who’s at the front door, so you can only let in people that you know.
As a senior who lives alone, your biggest worry might be falling or injuring yourself when there’s no one around and not being able to get to a phone to call for help. Unfortunately, as we age, we’re more likely to experience falls. In fact, one in three people over the age of 65 have one fall every year. Most falls only result in minor injuries, but a personal alarm could ensure that help arrives as soon as possible.
For someone who might be worried about falling or suffering from a sudden medical condition, such as a heart attack, a personal alarm might be the best answer.
A personal alarm is a button that can be worn around your neck or on your wrist at all times. It means that, should an accident occur, someone can be contacted at the push of a button without the need to remember or input any phone numbers. Help will be sent to your home, no matter what the time of day. The alarm notifies a 24-hour emergency response centre and you will be able to speak to them, either through the alarm unit that comes with the pendant or on the telephone. If you’re unable to answer your home phone, they will notify an emergency contact, such as a relative, friend or carer, who will be able to help you. In more serious situations, the emergency services will be called to your aid.
A personal alarm can make people feel much safer living alone, as they know that help is always a button push away.
When it’s only you living at home, it can sometimes look like nobody is in. Timers for your lights are relatively cheap and can be set to any time you like. The lamps that are plugged into the timers will turn themselves on and off according to the programme. This can make it look like multiple people are at home and this could help you to feel safer.
Not only can a dog protect you and make you feel safer, but they’re also great companions if you’re feeling down or lonely. They’re a friendly face that you can turn to for a hug, and, if you’re up to the task, taking them for a walk every day could do both of you the world of good.
Stanley from the Age UK Lottery TV ad.
Before you get a dog, it’s a good idea to do some research into the different breeds that are available and what each of their traits are. If you want a dog who’s obedient and good with the grandchildren, a Labrador Retriever might be an option for you. However, if you aren’t able to walk that far and want a calm living companion, a Basset Hound or a King Charles Spaniel could be more suitable.
Dogs can alert you to disturbances, which may make you feel safer, and they can keep you company when you live alone.
Invest in a mobile phone
As well as having a personal alarm, it’s a good idea to have a mobile phone that contains your family’s contact numbers. It could make living alone that little bit easier, knowing that your nearest and dearest are just a phone call away. It doesn’t need to be a fancy device - just keep it charged in case you ever need it.
Humans are very social animals and a lack of social interaction could begin to have an impact on your health, mental and otherwise. The Health Foundation found that nearly half of older people living alone have at least three long term conditions than those that live with someone else. The research also discovered that one in four seniors who live alone has some kind of mental health problems, compared to one in five seniors who live with a spouse or family member.
In order to continue to interact with people on a regular basis, you could take up a hobby that involves leaving the house and socialising at least once a week. You should also try to see your family members whenever you can, inviting them over or going on day trips if you’re able to.
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