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According to the Administration on Aging, about 12.5 million seniors lived alone in 2014.
If you're one of these people, it's important to take extra safety precautions to ensure your living environment is secure.
Not only are older adults more susceptible to falling, but they're also at higher risk of falling victim to thieves and criminals, according to Health in Aging. Safety and security is key for living a healthy and happy independent life. Consider these tips for protecting yourself while living alone:
1. Keep emergency numbers nearby
Accidents are unpredictable, so it's very important to prepare for the worst. Keeping a list of emergency numbers near each phone, and another in your purse or wallet, is critical. Programming these numbers into your smartphone is important as well. The list should include a close family member or friend's contact number, your health care provider's office, poison control and 911.
"60 percent of falls happen at home."
2. Create a fall-proof living environment
Did you know that 60 percent of falls happen at home? Making simple changes in your living space can help accidents from occurring. NIH Senior Health recommended improving the lighting, installing handrails and grab bars and removing safety hazards from the floors and staircases.
3. Get to know your neighbors
Have you introduced yourself to your neighbors yet? Having at least a casual relationship with those who live around you can be helpful in an emergency situation. Safewise said they'll be more likely to check up on you if something seems wrong, whether a suspected intruder is nearby or you're calling out for help. You may even want to include your neighbor's number on your emergency contact list.
4. Install motion sensor lighting
By installing motion sensor lighting outside your home, intruders will be less likely to sneak around. If anyone makes it near your windows or doors, the lights will turn on and they'll assume you're home and flee.
5. Improve fire safety
Fire prevention is key for staying safe in your home. To reduce your risk of experiencing a fire, The American Red Cross suggested installing smoke alarms in an area of easy reach in every bedroom, as well as the other quiet and secluded areas in your house. Be sure to test the alarms once a month and change the batteries when necessary.
If a fire does occur, get out as soon as possible and don't go back in for anything. Call the fire department and remain calm.
6. Request a weekly check-in
Ask a close family member, friend or neighbor to call or visit once a week to check in. It can either be a quick conversation, or you can make it into an excuse to mingle. Turn the brief visit into a dinner date so you can get caught up with each other's lives.