Caring for the Elderly in the Community
Disclaimer: The information presented by VIM & VIGR on this page is collated and published for general information purposes only. A thorough topic research was conducted to create this content, and authoritative health websites are used as references for reliability and accuracy. Any information on this content is not a substitute for professional advice or a presentation of field expertise; thus, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate elderly-care professionals.
Caring for the elderly requires meeting the individual patient’s unique needs in a holistic way. This necessitates a balanced and multidisciplinary approach to produce optimum health and wellness outcomes. This starts by assessing the elderly’s current state and their needs, key information for a concrete and actionable care plan. This will help determine what is being done right, what should be modified, and what interventions are necessary for any problems or potential issues facing the elderly.
Living Arrangements and Essentials
First and foremost, the senior’s basic needs. What are the senior’s living arrangements and preferences? Do they plan to age in place, or are they looking forward to going into retirement housing? And so on. Options include the following:
Aging in place—according to the National Institute of Aging, many older adults prefer to stay in their homes as they age. With this setup, they are in a familiar and comfortable environment. Any further requirements due to aging can be met by measures such as family caregiving, modifying their homes, hiring aides and other health personnel, etc.
Retirement housing—retirement homes are multiresidence facilities for the elderly, with each having apartment-style accommodations and shared facilities within the compound to provide amenities such as meals, gatherings, recreational activities, and forms of health care or hospice care.
Nursing homes—a facility that cares for elder residents and provides medical services for them. Nursing homes also provide round-the-clock care and monitoring.
Palliative care and hospice care—these are facilities that provide comprehensive comfort care and support for the elderly and their family. The former entails continuing treatment for the elderly’s conditions, whereas hospice care happens after the cessation of treatment, to alleviate discomfort and pain while meeting other end-of-life needs.
Other arrangements can also be made.
Safe Living Spaces
Whichever option chosen, it is crucial to keep in mind mental and sensory faculties and levels of mobility in order to keep an environment as safe and accessible as possible. Ideally, the patient can still perform their routine activities as best as they can, while minimizing the risk of accidents like falls. These measures can include installing more lighting, removing or modifying slippery surfaces, providing hand rails and even service dogs. Moreover, their lifestyles and routines may be modified to accommodate their diminishing capabilities.
The reality is sobering. The Centers of Disease Control’s 2016 report on the subject states that “every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group.”
Aging.com’s “Fact Sheet: Falls—the Biggest Safety Threat to Senior Health and Safety” points out a significant detail: “nearly 80% of falls by elderly (65 years old or older) occur in the bathroom.”
So we curated out some of the most respected elderly care experts, online safety advisers, and health bloggers and asked this question: "Referring to personal or professional experience, what’s the topmost essential part to do to ensure elderly safety?" Throughout this content, you can read their respective inputs that would help us and our elderlies achieve topnotch safety and care:
Stephany Smith, my-plumber.co.uk
My name is Stephany Smith, part of the plumber’s crew at My Plumber. The company is the one-stop-shop for all plumbing and heating repairs, installations, and maintenance services in the UK. Being set up in 2005 as a small company dealing only with small plumbing maintenance jobs, now it’s acknowledged and known with its award-winning customer services done by certified and insured plumbers.
Installation of grab bars and rails
A simple, yet affordable, option to minimize the risk of falls in the bathroom and around your home is to install grab bars and handrails. For instance, suction grab rails have indicators to inform you that the rail is securely attached to the surface, which makes it perfect for those who travel or stay with families and friends.
Reduce the risk of falls with bathroom tiles with a non-slip surface
When the elderly enter a bathroom, it is essential not to rush to prevent slippery accidents. However, the bathroom wet surface is a hazardous environment for individuals at risk of falling. The elderly shouldn’t compromise but cover the floor with non-slip bath mats, although they should be cautious about choosing one with high-grade rubber material and anti-skid backing. To best eliminate the chances of slips and falls when you have just cleaned or took a bath, use non-slip spray, non-skid tape, and shower mats.
Opt for a toilet seat suitable for the elderly occupant
For those of elderly who become unsteady on their feet when using a toilet, we recommend the installation of a higher toilet seat to allow comfortable use of the toilet. 20’ tall toilet bowls alleviate the inconvenience for those having difficulties to sit down or stand up from the toilet and also eliminates the disadvantages of using a toilet raiser (for example, the inability to use the toilet lid).
Install walk-in shower for safe aging
To ensure showering without any risk of tripping over, opt for a walk-in shower or tub. To reduce the risk of slipping or falling while you are already in the tub, grab bars and non-slippery rags are great safety bathroom furnishing. A good idea is to equip the bathroom with a shower stool or chair as it can be easily moved and cleaned while providing extra comfort during a bath.
Ensure easy access to the bathroom all the times
Thresholds and saddles on the elderly’s way pose risks for the older people who use the bathroom midnight. The best you can do is remove the obstacles. When it’s not possible, fit an anti-slip threshold ramp or wheelchair ramp to the sill of the bathroom door to facilitate a smooth transition through the doorway.
Change the faucet to lever style
Older people most often have arthritis and may feel difficulty using the faucet. To encourage good personal hygiene care for the elderly, change the faucet with a lever-style handle. That’s how you can improve the elderly’s independence and comfort. The installation is comparatively inexpensive and allows your parents to quickly grasp and turn on/off the water spout with one touch only.
It is the most dangerous place in the house for the elderly. Decreasing these dangers in the bathroom and other areas can entail a wide variety of measures. Elderly care should be holistic, as previously stated. Moreover, it should not just be about lessening potential risks but also about modifying the environment so it can promote optimum health and wellness. These measures are broad and varied, including the following:
Fall Prevention Safety
- Removing obstacles that can cause tripping, from loose rugs and wires to precarious lamps or vases
- Installing handrails and lights on stairways, with switches at the top and the bottom
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom around the toilet, the shower, and the tub
- Placing no-slip mats on potentially slippery surfaces such as bathroom floors, kitchen tiles, etc.
- Improving indoor lighting and installing night-lights
- Regularly assessing the individual’s risk for falls, from visual acuity to balance, and medication regimen (some meds may cause altered levels of consciousness)
- Encouraging the creation and maintenance of a fitness regimen to promote or maintain mobility
Teepa Snow, teepasnow.com
Today’s Voice for Dementia, Teepa Snow is one of the world’s leading advocates and educators for anyone living with dementia. Teepa’s philosophy is reflective of her education, work experience, medical research, and first hand caregiving experiences. Her advocacy efforts led her to the development of the GEMS® dementia classification model and the Positive Approach® to Care training strategies.
One essential aspect of elderly safety is fall risk reduction. In this population, falls often cause debilitating and even life-threatening injuries, so not falling is vital to health. Work with elders to appreciate the value of taking time to transition between lying down to sitting up to standing. When moving from a supine (laying) position to sitting, or sitting to standing, blood flow and blood pressure have to adjust. With age, this takes a bit longer. Pausing can make all the difference. Taking time in the transition can help to prevent dizziness, fainting, and falls.If you or someone you know is physically doing less or showing changes, see a medical provider and share what you noticed. Critical health issues such as blood pressure that is either too high or too low, eye and ear disorders, ongoing dizziness or vertigo, joint pain, numbness in feet and legs, and medication side effects can cause problems in safe movement or reduce interest in being active. Careful management can reduce the risk of disuse and fall risk.
Alison Shearer, www.assistinghands.com
Alison Shearer, owner of Assisting Hands Home Care – Lombard, Addison, Elmhurst & Surrounding Areas, feels that her entire life has prepared her for this business.Throughout her adult life, Alison made friends with senior citizens who were her neighbors and members of her church. She also helped out when they were ill if their families could not be around to help. Alison has also experienced the effects that Alzheimer’s disease can have on those suffering from the disease as well as their families. Both her grandfather and father-in-law suffered from Alzheimer’s and she did what she could to help during these difficult times. This experience showed her how important it is for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to receive care in their own homes.
The number 1 safety hazard for the elderly is Fall Related Injury. In 2013 it was reported that the direct cost of complications for older adults due to falls was $34 Billion. According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds, an older person is treated for a fall in the ER, and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. Some of the things we look for in a home and ask our caregivers to be vigilant about include, but are not limited to electrical cords, throw rugs, lighting, and bathtubs.There are several other safety issues to consider, but for me, Fall Prevention is number 1!
Sarah Johnson, www.familyassets.com
My name is Sarah Johnson with Family Assets. We provide free information to families about organizations that provide senior care including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Additionally, our guides cover health conditions, how to select the right care provider, and how to pay for care using Medicaid and other financial resources.
Fall-related injuries are the most common causes that the elderly end up needing senior care, relocation to a nursing home, and in severe cases, they can also be the cause of death. If we take the proper measures, we can help prevent these injuries from happening or provide a way to ensure they are able to reach out when they need help. As our loved one gets older, we must take note of where they can be more accident-prone. In my personal experience, the most fatal have occurred when they are reaching up for something on a shelf while standing on a potentially unstable surface (stool or ladder). Either the object(s) comes crashing down on them or they lose balance causing them to fall and fracture their hip/head.
Since we aren’t able to be there for them all the time, be aware of the items they need or use most that might be out of reach and help reorganize the items to a lower shelf or cabinet. Additionally, if they fall and are still conscious, it’s best to prepare them with a medical alert device to call first responders. In life-threatening situations where they are unable to call for help, a monitoring system can at the very least give you a visual of what’s happening in your home so you can catch the accident before it’s too late.
Fire and Kitchen Safety
- Using microwave ovens or induction pans instead of gas stoves
- Installing smoke detectors in all rooms and ensuring they are all functioning
- Maintaining best practices when cooking, such as putting pot handles away from the front edges, not wearing loose fabric clothing, and never leaving cooking food unattended
- Replacing potentially problematic appliances
- Ensuring power lighting in the area
- Regular cleaning and maintenance to remove fire hazards like scraps of paper and litter
- Having fire extinguishers at hand
Brianne Deerwester, www.esfi.org
My name is Brianne Deerwester and I am the Communications Coordinator for the Electrical Safety Foundation International. I handle all traditional and social media for ESFI. We are the premier non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace. We have a variety of safety resources for older adults on our website which focus on home heating safety, fire safety, cooking safety, and electrical safety.
- Involve all family members in revising/updating your fire escape plan.
- Walk through your home and note any possible exits - including windows.
- Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two ways to escape from each room.
- Consider whether older adults should sleep in a room on the ground floor to make escape easier.
- Make sure that doors and windows leading to the outside can be opened easily by everyone.
- If an older adult uses a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure they can fit through doorways.
- Ensure doorways, hallways, and stairs are clear of furniture and clutter that could become an obstruction or tripping hazard during a fire emergency.
- Utilize battery-powered lights to illuminate paths of exit, or have flashlights readily available and accessible.
- When possible, a responsible family member (and a backup person) should be assigned to assist the elderly or persons with mobility issues who will need assistance to escape.
- Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs for fire escape planning, asking them to keep your special needs information on file.
- Check to make sure your house number is easy to see from the street so emergency personnel will be able to find you quickly.
- Practice your fire escape plan at least twice per year.
- Review and revise your fire escape plan as necessary to accommodate new health or mobility concerns.
General Home Safety
- Modifying cabinets to be easily accessible
- Keeping items well organized and in easily rememberable positions, from cutlery to home repair equipment
- Having trusted neighbors who can assist if trouble arises and who know the contact details of next of kin
- Installing home-security systems
Claudia Hernandez, homecareassistance.com/alamo
I started working in the home-care field when I was 19 years old as a caregiver. Since day one, I fell in love with working with seniors. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have a career in which I could have the ability to make an impact in someone’s life and I knew when joining this field that I had found my true passion! I have been in home care for over 10 years now. I joined Home Care Assistance in 2015. I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with two of the largest offices, first in Palo Alto and now in Alamo! I am truly fortunate to be working alongside such a strong team! I hope to continue working hard to continue making a true impact in our community.
Our number one priority is to keep all of the seniors we work with safe! We do this by establishing a clear care plan based on our in-home assessment that really details the client’s current situation and areas of recommendation on how to keep them safe in the home. We start by doing a thorough home evaluation and recommending areas that can be key to avoiding a potential fall (e.g., removal of throw rugs, electrical cords, etc). We also recommend safety equipment (grab bars, raise toilet set, 3-1 commode, etc.) that would not only keep our clients safe but improve their quality of life by providing them a sense of independence and safety.
Sakshi Talwar, www.rugsandbeyond.com
Sakshi Talwar is the co-founder of Rugs and Beyond which is an e-commerce platform for fine, handmade rugs and empowers local weavers and artisans. She is also an artist, film-maker, and a frequent speaker at international business and women-centric events.
The most crucial part of ensuring senior citizens' safety and security is to provide them a comfortable environment. Make sure they eat well and are safe. Also, elderly people, tend to get bored easily and often feel lonely which is why companionship is extremely important. They must be surrounded by family and friends and not feel abandoned. Lastly, they should feel loved without feeling as if someone is obliging them for taking care of them.
Bruce Barnet, www.alzstore.com
Bruce is a certified caregiver who, along with his family, took their own knowledge of working with a family member with Alzheimer’s to create a worldwide resource of products that aid the caregiver of those with symptoms of the disease. Working with major product developers, university researchers and Alzheimer’s organizations, the Alzheimer’s Store offers a myriad of products that can help alleviate the common challenges that exist as a person’s memory slips away.
Homeproof the house. We can call it elder-proofing. What needs to be done is detailed in the best-selling Mark Warner book The Complete Guide to Alzheimer’s-proofing Your Home. Wandering is one of our top worries, as well as keeping them safe in all rooms of their home with door alerts and motion detectors. In the kitchen and bathrooms, there need to be refrigerator and cabinet locks. Part of being safe is lowering the frustration level, and that can be done with simple-to-use products like TV remote and picture phones.
Trish Felgar, seniorsafetyreviews.com
Trish is the cofounder and chief editor at Seniorsafetyreviews.com. Trish has a degree in geriatrics and over 20 years of experience helping older adults and family members in multiple aspects of senior care. She has been the director of an Alzheimer’s community, a geriatric-care manager, and the manager of a home-care program for over 300 patients.
Having managed home care services for seniors for the last 20 years, I would make the following suggestions to improve senior safety. The first would be to ensure seniors stay in good physical condition, through simple exercises like daily walks, swimming, or dancing. Second, I would take a look at modifying living environments so they’re more senior-friendly. Tops on this list would be to add grab bars by every toilet and shower in the household. Thirdly, I would add a monitored medical alert system with automatic fall detection so it can call for help, even if the senior can’t. Lastly, I would recommend an appropriate pill organizer, medication reminder, or medication dispenser, depending on the level of assistance required.
Safety with Personal Effects
Does the patient have all the necessities at home? For various weather conditions? Adequate provisions such as clothing, food, medicines, and other items have to be taken into consideration as well.
- Older people must have clothing appropriate for the season. Heat exhaustion and even strokes are hazards especially for them. On the other hand, the seniors need to have warm and comfy coverings for winter.
- Certain medical and health conditions may necessitate specialized clothing. Items like compression stockings for the elderly, and similar socks and legwear, can prevent venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and ulcers.
- Some specialized clothing may require assistance from caregivers.
- Ensure that the senior’s pantry is stocked well enough with essential food supplies for meals that will meet their complete nutritional requirements.
- Stores must take into account individual dietary requirements, medical conditions, potential drug interactions, and food allergies.
- Is the senior capable of independent food preparation? Do they require meal preparation done by relatives or services?
- Replenishing supplies should be convenient. Ideally, stores should be nearby and accessible, or the elderly can seek assistance from relatives, neighbors, or delivery services.
- Required medication must be accessible in adequate amounts.
- Meds should be arranged to avoid missed doses. Use pill dispensers and reminders if necessary.
- Assistance should be readily available for meds that require health-care providers to administer, such as injectable medicines.
- Routine checkups and consultations should be scheduled to evaluate adequate medication dosage levels and have adjustments made if necessary.
Downloadable Resources: Assistive sheets for medication management
Daily Medication Schedule sheet
Common physical aches and pains for seniors include lower back pain, joint pain, pelvic pain, osteoarthritis, just to name a few. When planning their routine, minimize or avoid including strenuous activities that cause discomfort. At the same time, the routine should promote activities and movements that reduce discomfort and maintain strong bodies. These will also help stave off stagnation and deterioration. Physical activities for seniors can include these:
- Exercise and walks can promote gross motor movement.
- Games and hobbies can stimulate fine motor movement.
- Their environment should be set in a way that will encourage optimal activities. A clear living room can allow the senior a wider range of movement, whereas cramped quarters or uncomfortable furniture will have adverse effects.
- Socialization can be structured to promote physical activity too: activities like walks at the park, group exercises, visits from family, and so on.
- Necessary assistive devices and amenities should be provided to enable seniors to engage in the activities they are capable of. Such items may range from canes and walkers to compression legwear for circulation issues and socks to prevent foot injuries.
Aarti Aggarwal, www.knockonwood.in
Aarti is the founder of Knock on Wood. A company that has one many national and international design awards. She leads the creative design team at Knock on Wood. She has studied domestic design from the University of Arts, London, and specialized in chair design from Danish School of Design, Copenhagen. Aarti's strong sensibility articulates her international exposure and an innate love for Indian art and culture.
The only way we can reduce accidents in the elderly is to design products and spaces which cater to our senior citizens. Be it inside or outside the house it becomes the duty of the design community to create a safe environment for the elderly. Adding small details like motion sensor operated night lights, soft close hinges and drawer stays, use of natural materials and finishes to avoid chemical emissions, use of ramps, ergonomically designed furniture, etc make homes friendlier.
Simple design choices can allow seniors to safely live independently for longer.
Social, Emotional Support
People are not just physical beings; they are social and emotional ones too, and these aspects are as much a part of the environment as our physical surroundings are. The following can help enhance seniors’ social and emotional state:
- Visits from relatives and loved ones or communicating with them remotely
- Travel to parks and other locales
- Group activities and games
- Physical exercise as mentioned above
- Mental exercises as well, like hobbies, crafts and art, crossword puzzles, which can be done individually or in groups
- Keeping pets or plants
The abovementioned physical, social, and emotional requirements factor into maintaining mental sharpness and staving off stagnation. Routine checkups should include assessments of mental state, level of awareness, and sensory acuity. Hearing loss has been linked to mental decline, for example. Issues and complications can be prevented or reduced with adequate interventions, such as how hearing aids are linked to lower the risks of depression, dementia, and other conditions.
- Seniors can still continue learning, and they can maintain their faculties by continuing to challenge their brains with mental exercises.
- Using all the senses will keep the brain active and help it retain its functions such as memory. As previously stated, hearing aids can be helpful in keeping the elderly sharp.
- Brain use can be economized and optimized. The elderly can stay focused on stimulating things if they aren’t drained by having to remember where the keys are or when their families are visiting. Let calendars, reminders, apps, sticky notes, and even apps handle that.
Reducing risks in the environment while making it conducive for senior life also includes factoring in potential emergencies. Considerations include the following:
- Ensure that the senior’s dwelling meets local safety codes and regulations.
- Have accessible emergency exits.
- Emergency services should be on speed dial.
- Relatives and loved ones living with the senior, or even trusted neighbors, should be oriented on what to do in emergencies.
- Install fire-detection sensors and fire extinguishers.
Issabel Williams, www.fantasticservices.com
Issabel Williams is a security expert with Fantastic Services. Our company is the one-stop-shop for a variety of property maintenance services provided within the UK, USA and Australia. The locksmith services we provide are guaranteed, carried out by insured, fully-equipped professionals, who are ready to help anyone in need 24 hours a day.
Install self-locking mechanisms. Anxiety often overwhelms the elderly’s mind when leaving their home. “Did I lock the door?”, this thought often crosses my parents’ mind. Uncertainty is well-placed as somebody can enter your home if left unattended and unlocked. To prevent such concerns, your best bet is to install a self-locking mechanism. From keyless entry locks to doorknobs and paddle-type door handle, the elderly can enjoy secure closing and automatic locking.
Don't be afraid to apply creativity hacks to deter thieves. If a home security system is something that the elderly can’t afford, fake security signs can make a burglar think twice. To trick the burglars’ mind, consider fitting a timer to light, make some noise with TV simulators, or put up a board “Dog in Premises”, even if you don’t have a dog.
Maintaining Health and Well-Being
These holistic measures come together, becoming more than the sum of their parts. These ensure that all the senior’s personal needs and requirements are met, from the physical necessities to emotional, mental, and social ones. Again, it is not just about preventing mishaps or reducing risks but also promoting wellness. This way, potential problems can be prevented, the effects of age softened, and the elderly’s autonomy maintained as much as possible as they live and age in peace—with grace, comfort, and dignity.
Katie McEntire, www.safewise.com
Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy.
Everyone ages differently, so the most essential part of elder safety and care is creating a care routine that fits the individual. For example, not everyone experiences memory loss or falls into a sedentary lifestyle as they age. The best way to ensure the safety of older adults is to tailor products and routines to fit their needs.
This could mean purchasing a smartwatch with reminders for medications, appointments, or social engagements for busy seniors. GPS tracking devices show caregivers where their loved one is if they experience regular confusion or wandering. And medical alert devices make living independently easier with single SOS buttons that call for help instantly.
And while there are tons of safety products for aging adults, it’s hard to replace real human contact. Whether visitors are family, medical professionals, or neighbors, regular human contact fights isolation, keeps spirits up, and serves as a regular check-in to make aging at home easier.
Rena McDaniel, thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com
My name is Rena McDaniel, and I’m a former family caregiver to my mom who had Alz and then metastatic breast cancer. In 2014, I was scared, confused, and really screwing things up, so I decided to research and change the way that I cared for my mom. Knowledge is power, so I decided to share my discoveries with the world. I created TheDiaryofanAlzheimersCaregiver.com, and the rest, as they say, is history. Unfortunately, I lost my mom in 2019, but TDAC still lives on.
Pay attention to the cues that you get from them. If you pay attention, you will start to see that certain actions are caused by certain problems. You have to become a detective and learn to read those cues. You have to step out of your world and walk into theirs.
Kevin Tagarao, 1heartcares.com
Kevin Tagarao is the Vice President of Operations of 1Heart Caregiver Services. He is responsible for the franchise support and development of the 1Heart Franchise Network and corporate-owned locations. With the vision of evolving 1Heart Caregiver Services into a premier national home care provider, Kevin has made it his focus to enhance company services and streamline corporate procedures. His implementation of various corporate strategies has helped improve the efficiency and effectiveness of 1Heart’s system of operations to better serve families in need of home care.
Elderly safety depends not only on physical health but also on personal and mental flourishing. One major challenge facing the elderly is loneliness, which carries a number of risks both mentally and physically. Elderly people with limited interpersonal contact are more likely to make mistakes in managing their medication, and they’re also more likely to have accidents. They also tend to have a lower quality of life — loneliness can cause depression, feelings of isolation, and a decreased sense of personal fulfillment. Quality time with loved ones can help overcome all of these issues. However, elderly caregiving is often overwhelming, especially if the burden falls primarily on one individual. In many cases, hiring an in-home caregiver helps meet all your loved one’s needs. To ensure elderly safety, providing companionship is essential.
Bennett Glace, seniorlifeadvisor.com
Senior Life Advisor is a blog and news source that focuses on issues of importance for seniors and retired Americans, including financial news, estate, and retirement planning, healthcare, and senior safety. Our team of journalists, lawyers, certified financial planners, and healthcare-industry experts are committed to providing the building blocks for long-term financial stability and good health.
The best way to avoid at-home injuries is to understand both your house and yourself. It’s important to make note of all potential risk factors and plan for any potentially risky activities. That means being honest and objective about your physical well being and ability to get around the house. No one likes to admit that they’re not as independent as they used to be, but being honest about this fact makes it simpler to proactively address risk factors.
What experts say on how to protect the older adults from cyber harm:
Yasir Shamim, www.purevpn.com
Yasir Shamim is an up and coming Digital Marketer currently working as an Executive at https://www.purevpn.com/ with the aim of increasing their search engine visibility. Digital marketer by day and tech fanatic by night, he enjoys reading up about cybersecurity and technology in general and also loves to share his opinions.
My father is getting on in age, and I'm fairly certain my father has the early signs of dementia (after repeatedly telling him to consult with a doctor, he refuses). Over the years I've helped them try to be secure online (simple things - making sure their wifi has a password, teaching them how to identify scams, etc). However, as they get older I'm finding they remember less about what I taught them, are less able to learn how to protect themselves, and as a result are becoming more susceptible to scams (phishing and phone scams), which is only getting worse as the level of sophistication for scammers increases. Recently my father answered the phone and said: ""Oh it's Microsoft, they need something from my computer.."" This classic scam was something he would have hung up on just a few years ago, but now it seems he's beginning to take it at face value.
- Install remote admin tools on their computer so I can make sure everything is up to date and provide support
- Ensure good AV is installed on their PC's
- Set up their Windows accounts as non-admin accounts
- Install a pi-hole on their home network an subscribe to several malware lists
- Protect their email better from phishing and scams with U2F 2-factor authentication
- Protect their phone to prevent phone scams by setting a whitelist of phone numbers that can join them and reject all unknown (if doable) and same for email.
Carla Diaz, www.broadbandsearch.net
Carla’s passion for data and technical chops led her to co-create Broadband Search. She believes the internet should be a human right and volunteers at her local animal shelter in her spare time.
The internet can be a scary place, and many elderly individuals are not well-versed in technology, making it even harder for them to benefit from using the internet. Difficulties aside, it is still important to most of us, that our parents/grandparents remain safe, and there are ways of keeping them that way even though they aren’t technologically savvy. One example that springs to mind when I consider the safety of the elderly is the Apple Watch. With technology that can detect a fall and contact you, you can respond accordingly and potentially save the life of the person wearing it. Similarly, there is a range of apps that can be used as a panic button to alert the right people/emergency services of an incident. These are simple to use and can be easily located, all you have to do is set it up for the person. Using the internet for safety is a great idea. With everyone being connected almost all the time, the possibilities are endless.
Ben Hartwig, infotracer.com
Ben is a Web Operations Executive at InfoTracer. He authors guides on entire security posture, both physical and cyber. Enjoys sharing the best practices and does it the right way.
The internet is a very good tool to keep in touch with loved ones, especially during the pandemic.
With its growing influence on individual consumers and large economies alike, the internet has become a crucial part of our day-to-day lives. Staying safe online can be difficult cause scammers changing their tactics daily, and with many elderly internet users having memory problems, it can be that much more of a challenge. In addition, many cybercriminals have created scams specifically targeting lonely seniors who are less informed about the internet. As such, it is important for elders to take some protective measures in order to stay safe while they are online!
Seniors need to keep these cybersecurity tips in mind:
Be on the lookout for phishing scams - Use email lookup tools to understand if the email from the person you don't know is from a scammer. Don't click on links in the emails. Be aware of scammy websites that are asking personal information. Use multi-factor authentication if it is possible. If you have been a victim of a scam report it immediately
Sean Nguyen, www.internetadvisor.com
Sean runs Internet Advisor because he believes everyone should be aware of every service provider option in their area. He is an avid gamer and takes internet speed a little too seriously
Senior online safety requires a whole different approach, because we’re less concerned with adult content, cyberbullying and sexual predators, and more concerned about scams, phishing, and catfishing. There’s been a major surge in scams targeting the elderly, because they’re so vulnerable and usually, not as online-literate as younger generations. People take advantage of that. The most frequent cases I see are seniors getting targeted for financial scams - messages on Facebook telling them there’s been an accident involving their kids, and they need to transfer money NOW to help them. What I can say is that those with elderly relatives should be helping protect them - block sites that are known to be malicious, regularly check their emails, and adjust spam filters. Look at their bank statements and phone bills - anything unusual? Are they racking up bills talking to unknown numbers? In different countries? That’s a red flag. The most important part, and that people don’t want to do is just to keep in touch with your elderly loved ones. Talk frequently, check on them and ask about their life. That alone cuts down on their vulnerability because they don’t feel as lonely and disconnected. Of course, you can teach them about online safety: If they ever receive emails that sound fishy, they should forward them to a trusted person for vetting. Never click random online pop-ups. Shouldn’t trust strangers online, do not offer them private information. Strengthen their passwords. Most of it is common sense for us, but if you haven’t grown up with all these things drilled into you, it’s not second nature.
Gabe Turner, www.centerfield.com
Gabe Turner is an attorney/journalist with a passion for technology. After graduating from NYU Law and working as an attorney for years, he decided to make the switch into technology as Director of Content for Security.org. He is passionate about safety, technology, and the combination of the two.
As far as online safety for seniors goes, I recommend getting them a password manager to store all of their passwords. They can create unique, long, and complicated passwords for each account without having to remember them. Otherwise, they’ll probably make up a variation of the same password for each account, which makes it much easier to get hacked. Password managers will also generate strong passwords for them, and they can use them on both their computers and smartphones.
Amie Clark, www.theseniorlist.com
Amie Clark is a co-founder of TheSeniorList. She began her career as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman and worked in skilled nursing facilities before starting her own company specializing in geriatric care management and senior housing advisory. Amie started TheSeniorList with her husband in the mid-2000s to provide seniors and their loved ones with thoughtful, transparent information on products and services for older adults.
I can speak to this from both a professional and personal perspective. My husband and I have both had to intervene in situations where our parents and grandparents were being taken advantage of online.
In regards to social media, never accept “friend requests” from people you don’t know. Additionally, watch out for new requests from people that are already on your “friend” list. These are typically fake accounts used to trick you into sending them money by sending you personalized messages. Another common scam to look out for on social media are romance tricksters. The scammer’s goal is to foster a trusting relationship (which can go on for months or longer) with their target before asking for money for things like flights or visas. Older adults are especially vulnerable to these types of scams due to loneliness and perhaps less experience with online relationships.
Make sure your passwords are secure and strong and don’t use the same password more than once. If you have a hard time remembering your passwords, keep a separate log in a secure place, or utilize an online password vault.
Lastly, while email scams have been around for quite some time, they are still prevalent and evolving. One of the more alarming email scams is sextortion which is a type of online blackmail. In an email to the victim, the scammer will threaten to send intimate images of the victim watching pornography or information about their browsing history to family, friends, or work associates if a ransom is not paid. Do not respond to these emails and remember to never click on links within suspicious emails.
Norhanie Pangulima, hernorm.com
I am Norhanie Pangulima, a content ambassador at Hernorm. At Hernorm, I work on creating content about dating, relationships, digital marketing, social media, and more. I am happily married, but I have been through the ups and downs of dating, which is why my friends and family come to me for relationship advice. I am also experienced when it comes to web outreach, as my contributions have been published on several websites across varying niches.
We all have family members that are way past 60. And since we’re in a digital age, they’ve also learned to adapt and change whether its using smartphones, tablets, or laptops. We even taught them how to create a social media account and instant messaging. But the problem we are facing is that scammers and hackers are trying to take advantage of their susceptibility.
What should we do to help our seniors be aware of these scammers and hackers? We immediately should talk to our seniors about these scams and teach them how to avoid it. We tell them not to click on anything they don’t know or understand or not to talk to people they don’t know or met.
Ask them to approach us immediately if somebody on the internet is asking for their personal information and passwords. As for me, I always tell my grandpa never to give out his passwords and his Social Security number over the internet.
Every year, seniors are scammed out of tens of billions of dollars, money they’ve spent their entire lives saving only to have it stolen. The elderly have always been a prime target for Internet scams because of a perceived vulnerability, and now because Internet use among seniors is on the rise. A Pew Research Center survey showed that 67% of seniors are now regular Internet users.
Jennifer Willy, etia.com
I'm Jennifer, Editor at Etia.com, which our content aims to make the travel community aware of the latest information on Etias and other travel-related education.
Amidst the panic, it is important to remember that our elderly counterparts need us at this time. As the usage of the internet has suddenly increased, it is our duty to educate older people about its usage and online safety. Due to the pandemic, many scammers are taking advantage of these people. These scammers in the name of fake insurance policies are asking personal information like address, bank account details, or even PIN number. Massive discounts on masks or subscriptions are being offered to online entertainment services from unknown third parties. Several fake donation requests to support COVID‑19 relief from non-profits, hospitals, or other organizations, has also been in the notice. Several people have been conned by the lure of fake medical kits, cures, test kits, hand sanitizer, and face masks. So, beware your elders ask them not to make any transactions at this point in time.
Katie Ziskind, wisdomwithinct.com
I’m Katie Ziskind, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and the owner of Wisdom Within Counseling in Niantic, Connecticut. I’m a yoga teacher and yoga therapist. I work with depressed adolescents and teens with body image issues. Therapy helps them cope with feelings in healthy, holistic ways, love themselves, and be socially confident.. I run a group practice that focuses on child and teen anxiety counseling using creative arts, outdoor nature therapies, and yoga.
The Internet can be a very dangerous place for someone who is naïve, especially with spammers. An elderly person could easily be taken advantage of online by scam emails asking for a bank account, Social Security number, or even to verify debit card accounts. Seniors need to be wary, just like they are of telemarketers on the phone. The Internet can be a dangerous place if an elderly person is asked to donate money to a cause, to send cash or anything of that nature. If you’re a senior, always browse the Internet with a young adult next to you to help you identify scams.
Mary Kate D'Souza, www.gentreo.com
I am attorney Mary Kate D'Souza, an attorney with over 20 years of litigation experience in the area of elder abuse cases. I also am a founder of Gentreo.com, an online estate planning solution that is on a mission to protect all American families by making sure that estate planning is easy, affordable, and accessible.
Many elders are victims of financial exploitation because they are vulnerable to online scammers who may initially contact them via telephone but end up controlling their computer. The best way to ensure your loved one's computer safety is by staying in touch and having the ability to review their finances through a valid power of attorney. Its important to constantly monitor accounts as the scammers move quickly, once they gets access to drain the accounts.
Samantha Moss, romantific.com
Samantha Moss is the editor and content ambassador at Romantific. It’s her job to make sure all our content is as good as it can be, and to help promote that content across our various social media channels.
I am amazed at how we could communicate with anyone anywhere in the world online nowadays. However, there is no shortage of people who are taking advantage of this trend. The seniors and the elderly are more vulnerable to these kinds of scams. Unfortunately, we cannot ask them to put an end to their only way of socializing at these trying times so let me just share some ways to keep our seniors and elderly safe:
- Make sure they are using strong passwords. Explain to them the importance of having strong passwords and why this should not be shared with anyone else.
- Help them manage their privacy settings. As much as possible, review their privacy settings so that their posts are not available to the public.
Report any suspicious emails. There are a lot of different email scams, from personal emergencies to computer virus scams. You should let our elderly know that they should consult someone first before responding to these emails and report it to the alithority once proven to prevent them from getting more victims.
- Protect their devices. Make sure that their devices are password-protected, if possible, fingerprint lock their mobiles so no one can take any information from them if there would be an accidental loss.
Stephen M. Arndt, www.silverliningstechnology.com
Stephen Matthew Arndt (CEO and CIO), a national healthcare information technology consultant and industry leader, is an innovator, change agent, and problem solver who focuses on results. Stephen has spent more than 25 years in IT, specializing in healthcare for more than 15 years.
When in a worldwide crisis like a pandemic or large-scale natural disasters, your passwords could mean the difference between spending your time re-learning how to recoup finances and private data that’s been hacked.
Steps you can take to protect your passwords:
- Review your current passwords and inform your family to create stronger, more complex ones that can’t be easily guessed. Every 90 days minium to change your passwords more often is better.
- Use a password manager software to store all your passwords in one place. Don’t store them in your web browser just because it’s convenient. It’s also easy to hack.
Other useful tips for senior safety:
Lynell Ross, www.zivadream.com
My name is Lynell Ross. I am the founder and managing editor of Zivadream, an education advocacy website dedicated to helping people improve their lives. I am also a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Behavior Change Specialist. In addition, I lead workshops at senior facilities on maintaining balance and other physical and mental health topics.
1.) Eat and Exercise Well
Making sure you get adequate nutrition as you age can be difficult, especially if you live alone and don't feel like preparing meals. Do your best to eat balanced meals with real whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and dairy to give your mind and body what you need to stay healthy and maintain good brain function and to keep bones strong.
Exercise is the key to keeping your muscles strong so you don't fall. Seniors who walk daily, and do squats and other exercises build up thigh muscles that help them prevent tripping and falls, which can lead to devastating consequences. Walking is also an excellent way to strengthen your heart and prevent heart attack and stroke.
2.) Mental Wellness
Maintain connections with friends, loved ones, and groups to prevent isolating. Being alone is bad for your health. Look for ways to stay engaged by attending church or support groups. If you live in a senior community, take advantage of the activities, play cards, and join in. People who are socially connected live longer than those who don't have a close group in their life.
Philip Regenie, zanthion.com
As the CEO of Zanthion I am responsible for our corporate vision for senior care. My job is to exemplify our belief in providing value to our society, our customers, our partners, and to each other. To accomplish the promotion of value to those we serve, I serve those who serve them.
We have a mission statement, "Quality of life for everyone." The reason we chose this mission statement is to ensure that all aspects of a senior's life are considered when providing services to them, one of which is safety. Safety for seniors is a very complicated subject because the leading cause of the vulnerability is isolation and the absence of connectivity. It is, in fact, 50% of the health and wellness equation. We believe that connecting communities, enabling communication, and providing a crowdsourced simple alarm response mechanism for seniors and their caregivers is the best way to improve safety for seniors.
Lisa M. Cini, mosaicdesignstudio.com
Lisa M. Cini is the President of Mosaic Design Studio. A global award-winning senior living design, project management, and procurement firm. Mosaic’s mission is to"Improve Quality of Life by Design." She is also the founder of www.BestLivingTech.com in which she curates the best products to Embrace Living as we age. Think Sharper Image meets AARP! Lisa shares her knowledge through her numerous best-selling books on aging and senior living and is regarded as the leading expert for Alzheimer's and long-term care design in the nation.
As a senior living designer as well as living in my own multigenerational home with a husband and two teenagers and my parents in their late 70’s and my 92-year-old grandmother with Alzheimer’s I gained a deeper appreciation of senior safety. Proper lighting is key, a senior needs 70% more light to see than a 20-year-old. Lighting should be dimmable, on sensors and color corrective. Clutter is typically the culprit when it comes to falls, cords on the floor, magazines, and pets. Clearing spaces, taking rugs down, creating contrast at handrails, and top and bottom steps are key to senior safety.
Andrea Daniels, www.heartlightonline.com
Andrea Rosen Daniels is a placement and referral specialist with Heart Light, a referral service. Since 2011, Andrea Daniels has been working with families and seniors to help them find the right assisted living, memory care, or board and care community. Certified as an administrator for the residential care facility for the elderly, Andrea knows the state requirements for all licensed communities and works with many recognized agencies assisting seniors.
If we are in these times of COVID, isolating and handwashing are the topmost essential parts to do to ensure elderly safety.
Typically, in my professional and personal experience, I would say that you must have all your paperwork together first such as trust, wills, POLST, and advance directives and that you are NOT isolating and alone. Engagement and socialization are key not just to survive but also to thrive.
Willie Greer, theproductanalyst.com
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A film lover, he built his home theater to have an immersive sound experience right on his couch -- and he's now helping others do the same.
Our family is living with my grandmother right now. We were worried about her because of the pandemic, so we've put some safety measures in place to make sure she's comfortable and safe. Here are my tips based on our family's personal experience:
Put a night light in the bathroom to make repeated night trips safer.
Install a grab bar in the bedroom and bathroom to make it easy for them to get up and to avoid slips.
Place things in easy-to-reach areas so she wouldn't need to grab a chair or ladder to reach them.
Inform them about online scams. Seniors are extra vulnerable to online scams, so it's important to inform them of any classic modus you know such as the I-got-into-an-accident scam, your-computer-has-a-virus scam, and any email or site that asks for credit card information.
Remind them to be respectful online. It's easy for others to throw negative comments as if they're meaningless. So to keep grandma or grandpa in a safe environment, remind them to always think before posting anything and to be calm and tactful at all times.
Remind them to limit sharing personal information. It's easier for strangers to get your personal information through your social media profiles. Remind grandma or grandpa to limit posting photos and other content that should stay within the family.
Esther C. Kane, seniorsafetyadvice.com
I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. I was an Occupational Therapist (OT) for many years and specialized in adults with neurological impairments such as stroke, head injury, dementia, etc.
The training that I received in working with adults gave me extensive experience in-home safety assessments and a great knowledge base in the type of home modifications needed to help older adults to be safe in their home environments.
My experience as an Occupational Therapist working in geriatrics taught me that the number one issue address when it comes to safety for seniors is the modification of the immediate environment of the elderly person. It's true that as we all age, most of us could do more to build our body's strength and improve our balance, our health, etc. But, the matter of fact is that our physical and cognitive health will change, will slow down and deteriorate to some extent.
So, the best solution to improve safety is to change the things that can be changed, which is our environment. Making the environment you are living in safer and easier to live in can not only lengthen your life but it can improve the quality of your life as well.
Rachel Baer, www.yogakeepsmefit.com
My name is Rachel, I am an E-RYT 200 instructor with many years of experience both practicing and teaching yoga.I trained as a Fitness Instructor in the UK before moving to the US in 2003, my focus is now on Chair Yoga and fall Prevention for seniors and those with disabilities. I am constantly amazed at the difference yoga makes to the lives of my senior yogis, many of whom are in their eighties and nineties and are still committed to their yoga practice. I have truly found my calling in life. My approach to a healthy lifestyle is based on the belief that each person is unique. We all matter, and I genuinely care for all my clients and love what I do. Yoga is for everyone.
There are simple steps we can take to help prevent falls at home. Install good lighting throughout your home, making sure floors are clear from clutter, keeping walkways clear. Wear non-slip footwear especially if you have wood or tile flooring. Ensure mats at your doorways are secured, placing non-slip material underneath. If you are unable to find a safe way to secure the mat, remove it, safety first. Keep stairways clear of clutter, including those items waiting to be “taken upstairs” also removing children’s or pet's toys from the floor, they are tripping hazards. Beware of pets both small and large, several of my clients have experienced injuries due to a family member’s pet either tripping or knocking them over.
If you are often on your own consider purchasing a fall alert alarm to ensure you get the help you need as soon as possible.
Tena L. Scallan, theultimatecaregivingexpert.com
Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner, and published author with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. She has dedicated her life’s work to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency, and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers. She firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved by in-home compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness.
Emergency numbers: Write in large letters and kept handy with each phone. This should include important contacts like the police department, fire department, poison control, doctor’s office, and friends or relatives.
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