Health & Senior Living

Keeping seniors safe at home this time of year

By Carol Higgins Taylor

    Summer is the perfect time to spruce up your home and make it safer at the same time.
    Because the days are still long, it’s easy to forget to leave the outside lights on which illuminate your property and pathways.
    This problem is easily solved with motion-activated sensor lights that automatically come on when someone approaches.

    I have these sensor lights installed at my own house and love them. The lights do two things. First, you’ll never have to struggle again trying to make it to your door if you’ve come home after dark but have forgotten to leave a light on.
    The lights are also good when company visits. How well-lit are your pathways with your current lights? Well-placed sensor lights will brighten up your whole property.
    Secondly, the lights can make it almost impossible for someone to approach your home unseen. And there is no need to worry about turning them off. The sensor does it automatically. These lights are typically not expensive and are easy to install.
    However, if you need help, call Eastern Area Agency on Aging EZ Fix Program for advice or assistance. In some cases you may need an electrician but it is well worth the cost.
    Solar powered lights that can be stuck in the ground are a good choice too, for a little extra light and a pretty look.
    Next, take a look at the landscaping around the house. Is it overgrown and covering windows? Trim them up. This is a perfect place for a burglar to hide undetected and possibly climb in a cellar window – which should be locked, by the way.
    Keep your curtains closed at night. It is unbelievable how many people are going about their business at home, in clear view of passers-by. It’s creepy to think someone could be watching you.
    Report all strangers who are lurking in the area to the police department. Walking down the street is not a crime, but someone sneaking around houses and garages is probably up to no good. Don’t feel paranoid. Better safe than sorry.
    I strongly encourage you to install peepholes in all outside doors that don’t have a window. As with the electrician and the sensor lights, this installation is worth the money — especially now, because this is an election year and volunteers are going door to door to talk with people about the candidates and issues.
    Just because someone has a clipboard and a badge does not mean they are legit. Use your peephole and be very careful if you do decide to open the door. Never invite them in.
    If you have a garage door, keep it closed. An empty bay is a clear signal that you are away not to mention that things in the garage could be stolen.
    Keep all windows locked when closed including basement windows. And don’t leave first floor windows open when you are away.
    Sliding glass doors should be secured with something in the track, such as a stick, so the door can only be opened from the inside.
    Never talk openly about what medications you take, especially in a crowded public place. Some seniors have been knocked to the ground by a thug who then made off with their prescriptions.
    If you lose a house key or it was stolen, have the locks changed immediately as a precaution.
    And keep the doors locked, even if you’re home. Don’t make it easy for an intruder to enter your house. It may never happen but it only takes one time to end in tragedy.
    So remember: bright lights and a little caution can go a long way toward keeping you safe.
    Carol Higgins Taylor is an advocate for seniors and owns a public relations agency in Bangor. Email Higgins Taylor at

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