Aging parents often struggle with being alone all of the time. Their children have moved away and have children of their own. There are also not many people who come by to visit them anymore. While it can be very lonely, there are also safety concerns that they might have. What if they fall and no one knows? What if someone breaks in the house while they are sleeping? What if they get sick and can’t take care of things like they used to? Luckily, there are a few ways that you can help them to feel more at ease.
Don’t Leave Them Lonely
Try to set up a time that you regularly come by to check on them. Even busy people can spare a few minutes a day. Stick to the schedule, so they know that they can count on you, and be sure to call if you can’t come by. This is especially important during the winter season because the elderly have a higher risk of injuries from snow and ice then. Those who live too far away from their parents to be able to come by very often can recruit a trusted neighbor or a friend to stop by instead.
A furry friend is a great help to an elderly person who is living alone. They provide companionship for times that you can’t be with them, which will ease their loneliness some. It doesn’t matter what type of pet that you get to help them, but dogs and cats from the local pet shelter are often the best because they can be trained to alert someone of potential danger. Their hearing and sense of smell is far greater than that of a human’s, and this can increase safety in case of an unknown fire or intruder. Some animals can be taught to do tasks like fetching the mail or bringing small objects too. Companionship and safety are both a perk of having a pet.
Some local police and sheriff departments are willing to do regular safety checks on the elderly. Call your law enforcement office to find out if they would be willing to help. Some will go all the way to the door and knock to check on a person for you. Others will at least drive by on a daily basis. They usually perform the safety checks on a schedule each day, so the elderly person will always know someone is looking out for them. There are other local programs that can help too, such as meals on wheels. A driver will bring free or low cost meals once a day to those who are struggling to cook for themselves. If you don’t have a local meals on wheels program, call your local Department of Aging to check for any other options that might be available. Many churches will send volunteers to bring food and check on the elderly too.
Get Them Electronic Assistance
There are many home automation systems that can be installed in a matter of hours. They connect lights, security systems, and even the sprinkler system with an easy control panel. All an elderly person has to do is push a button to have instant access to them. So if they happen to hear a noise outside, they can check the cameras or turn on lights outside to see what it is. This will not only deter intruders, but it will also make your elderly parents feel safer. The home automation systems can also be connected to alert local police or firefighters of any problems in the house, so they will still respond to the home, even if your elderly parent cannot get to the control panel to alert them.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can make your elderly parents feel safer. Be sure to talk things over with them first though. Ask what they might want or need help with the most. Being actively involved in your parent’s life as they age, and getting them the help they need, will help put them and yourself at ease.
Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. For home automation systems, Emma recommends Control4. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2