Security in Retirement Communities
Retirement communities are usually shared dwellings or apartment complexes where seniors still maintain a level of independence. Many of them are generally safe places to be because they may offer some assistance to people who need in-home care, as well as social activity coordination. However, there are potential concerns to be aware of:
- Falls, injuries and illness
- Theft by neighbors or in-home assistance
- Fires caused by lack of awareness, forgotten cooking, smoking
- Identify theft and fraud
Here are some products, services and tips that can help keep your loved ones safe:
DIY self-installed security systems
Basic home security systems can help prevent break-ins. Family members can usually download the accompanying app to receive alerts if any activity happens. DIY self-installed options are often best for seniors because they don’t require long contracts or any permanent installations.
Security cameras are also an option. These can help family members keep an eye on things and make sure their elderly loved one is going about their day as usual, without suspicious activity.
Medical alert systems
Medical alert systems can take the form of in-home buttons or wearable panic buttons. The senior can simply press the button for help if needed. More advanced systems also have automatic fall detection, so the monitoring center will automatically check on them if detected. There are also options with a GPS tracking capability which allows family members to track the whereabouts of active seniors. That way family and emergency services can locate them if they get in trouble or wander off.
Tips to avoid theft and fraud
Unfortunately, seniors are a prime target for fraud and identity theft. Sophisticated criminals leverage modern technology and generational differences to ensnare and confuse trusting people, and they constantly update their tactics. Seniors often benefit from frequent reminders about identity theft prevention.
- If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. This includes, but is not limited to, claims of sweepstakes winnings and inheritances.
- Take in your incoming mail quickly. When you send outgoing mail, drop it into a mailbox that’s inaccessible to thieves.
- Participate in a social network (perhaps at the local senior center) to stay in the know about the latest news and scams.
- Identity theft and credit monitoring services can help seniors respond to transgressions as soon as possible.
Safety and Security in Assisted Living Environments
Assisted living facilities are communities that offer housing, healthcare, and personal services for seniors who are no longer independent. Seniors may have more help and access to healthcare, but they have less privacy in these facilities. Assisted living employees and medical workers have access to their living space. Here are some of the biggest concerns for seniors and their families:
- Theft in assisted living facilities – Theft of personal items like money, valuables and medication is common in some nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
- Abuse – Sadly, some seniors are targets for abuse by employees. In fact, an estimated 5,000,000 people are affected by elder abuse every single year. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 5% to 10% of self-reported elder abuses are physical, 60% are verbal and 14% are neglect.
- Falls – Though quality nursing homes should have proper staffing to respond immediately to this issue, and your loved one may or may not be independently mobile.
Tips to Improve Safety and Prevent Theft In Assisted Living Facilities
- Don’t bring any valuable items to the nursing home facility. “Personal possessions are not typically secured, so I advise family members to not take expensive items such as jewelry, watches or other heirlooms to the care facility,” said David Reed, Senior Care Specialist and Founder of Assured Senior Living Solutions. “If they insist on having valuables there, you might provide them with a small, fireproof safe and secure it with a lock and cable.”
- You might be tempted to install a security camera in your loved one’s room. This might be a possibility in certain states and facilities, but it also presents serious privacy concerns for the individuals and workers inside. Consult your facility and elder care laws in your state to verify if this option is available to you.
- Your facility may allow your loved one to wear a medical alert pendant with GPS tracking and/or fall detection for maximum peace of mind. While a quality care facility should be able to prevent problems and respond to any accidents immediately, these devices can help family members know if anything happens in real-time.
- Stay in touch, visit regularly, and look for red flags. If your loved one has complaints about theft or abuse, take them seriously. Don’t give them too much cash or gifts, as that could make them a target (it’s also a safety concern to have too much clutter in a room). Speak with a staff member to get an idea of your loved one’s regular routine and disposition.