When you think of safety devices for older adults (like yourself or your aging parents) – the first thing that comes to mind is probably medical alert devices. But truthfully, there are so many more other products available to help seniors be as safe as possible.
My list of recommended safety devices for seniors who live alone include:
- Medical Alert Devices
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Kitchen Safety Devices
- Home Security Systems
- Monitoring Devices
- Smart Home Assistants
- Automated Lighting
These safety devices are worthwhile for everyone, but especially for seniors and even more so for those older adults who are living alone. So, let’s dive in a little on each of these types of safety products.
Medical Alert Devices
The most popular medical alert device is Life Alert but it’s certainly not the only one that’s available. These days there is a really nice variety to choose from. Here are some that I recommend:
This great product is a piece of jewelry that can be a necklace or a bracelet. Use an app on your smart phone to set it up. You can choose up to 5 people to be alerted when and if you use it.
The Freedom Guardian watch is just one of several different types of medical alert devices that can be worn as watches. It also has GPS tracking capabilities, reminder alerts and more. Honestly, just having the medical alert system and the GPS tracking are good enough for most seniors.
Very similar to Life Alert – it’s an accredited medical alert provider with multiple sets of equipment that you can use to protect you or a senior loved one when and if an emergency were to occur.
You may not think of Alexa as a medical device but it does provide the ability to call 911 and it also has a buddy skill that gives you the ability to contact several of your friends or family members in case of an emergency. It’s obviously best used for emergencies within your home.
Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
There are some specific features to look for in safety devices such as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for homes whose occupants are older adults. If these seniors have hearing problems, these safety devices need to be able to alert them in spite of their hearing loss.
So, here’s what I can recommend.
It has a very loud alarm and a strobe light that will go off as well. But – be aware that according to research from the NFPA’s Research Foundation (National Fire Protection Association) – older adults are unlikely to respond to alarms with strobe lights. So, although these strobe light alarms may work well for most – as your parents grow older – it may not work for them.
Note that security programs such as SimpliSafe can hear a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm and begin the process of sending help.
This type of smoke detector not only flashes a strobe light, it also has a loud alarm AND it shakes the bed or pillow. This unit comes with a component that you can place under your pillow or anywhere else on the bed where you would feel it.
You can read more in our article on Smoke Detectors For Seniors (How To Choose The Best One).
It plugs into any standard outlet and detects natural gas, propane gas, and carbon monoxide.
There are several different types of combination detectors that you can get for any home. These do not have any special feature specifically for seniors but they are extremely important for every home.
Kitchen Safety Devices
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the home – not just for seniors – but especially for seniors. Here are some safety devices that I can recommend specifically for the kitchen.
I would recommend that any kitchen (whether there are seniors in the home or not) be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher. But for most seniors, using one would be a bit difficult.
An alternative is a Fire Extinguishing Blanket (available on Amazon). This will put out a pan fire (liquid or grease). All anyone would have to do to put out the fire with this blanket is to pull down the tabs on the wrapper, open the blanket and toss it onto the fire.
There are a variety of safety knobs that can be used on gas stoves. It’s a very easy way to help keep a senior loved one (especially if they suffer from some form of cognitive decline such as dementia or alzheimers) from turning on a gas stove.
The best auto shut off device that I can recommend is the iGuard Stove Lock – but it can be expensive. If you want to investigate some less costly alternatives check out the ones that we recommend here.
Home Security Systems
Security programs like SimpliSafe can be set up by most anyone. I love that a caregiver (such as the children of senior parents) can monitor their parents via the app.
In addition, SimpliSafe will also “hear” a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm and be alerted – sending help which is extremely useful if the senior living in the home is hard of hearing.
In addition, it’s sensitive enough to notice a drop in temperature and can also be set up to identify a water leak.
Any of these “alerts” can be sent via text and/or email to contacts that you set up.
Bottom line is every home should have a security system set up – choosing the one that fits your budget and your needs may take a little research but it’s well worth the time and effort.
When it comes to adding a security system in a home with senior occupants, the best advice I can give you is to make sure it’s a very simple thing to operate.
Wearables For Seniors
I love the many different skills that wearables can provide these days. It’s really very exciting! Here’s a list of some that I recommend:
- Life Alert (almost everyone has heard of this!)
- GPS enabled watch from Apple (this particular one also has an anti fall alarm which is pretty cool!)
- Invisawear Smart Jewelry – I mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning it again. This beautiful necklace is a piece of jewelry that is also a safety device!
In addition to the medical alert devices that we mention above, other types of technology is available for monitoring senior loved ones.
Remote monitoring technology actually began with baby monitors, but today it helps adult children and caregivers see, hear and respond to the needs of their elderly parents while they are working, at school, or taking care of their children. Having these systems in place also give senior parents peace of mind from knowing that emergency services will respond if there is a fall situation or a medical problem.
Grandparent monitors are passive monitoring systems that can track the movements and activities of an elderly loved one 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Examples of grandparent monitoring systems are the Blurams Home Pro Security Camera, which has WiFi capability with facial recognition and advanced night vision.
This is another passive monitoring system that helps monitor loved ones. It uses panoramic cameras motion detectors, contact sensors, and wearable trackers that can detect falls and sensors to detect movements. This system is great for elderly patients with cognitive or memory problems who could live at home where they would be comfortable as opposed to living at a nursing facility. IT, too, is Alexa-enabled.
With the Echo Show – you can make video phone calls to another Echo Show or to anyone who has the Alexa app on their phone. This is a great way for caregivers who live away from their elderly parents to “check in” on mom and dad.
Movement sensors, such as bed pads and area rugs, are available to help families and caregivers monitor elderly patients. They contain pressure sensors that will trigger an alarm to sound as soon as the patient leaves the bed or steps on a rug
I can’t say enough amazing things about all the skills that a tool like Amazon’s Alexa can do to help protect seniors. Just to name a few things…
- Call 911
- Alert family and friends
- Video phone calls
- Show and tell (for visually impaired adults)
- Finding your cell phone
- Automating lights
- Reminders and Notifications
- Starting your car (great for those winter mornings)
- Use as an intercom system
- Call Uber or Lyft
- Burglar Deterrant
- Answers to simple medical questions
Yes, you can use Alexa enabled smart plugs to set up your home lights so that they turn on at specific times. But I would also recommend that you use plug in lights or battery powered lights. I like to use a combination of both because there can never be too many lights!
How Can We Keep Elderly At Home Safe?
Senior proofing a home for seniors simply takes some planning, time and oftentimes products like the ones that I’ve mentioned above.
In addition, the issues to be addressed include (but not entirely limited to) the following:
- fall proofing
- techniques to compensate for memory problems
- fire safety
- home security
- modifications to the living environment
- methods and tools to make daily tasks as easy and safe as possible and
- use of assistive devices to compensate for any issues such as poor strength, vision and hearing problems
I go into more detail on each of these issues in my article on Senior Proofing Your Home.
We live in an amazing time where technology is expanding faster than we can learn it! There are so many different and wonderful tools available for caregivers and seniors alike to help them all live safely in their own home environments.