Aging in place is the most popular option for seniors. This explains why one in every three homes in America has at least one senior aged 60 years and above. The leading cause of death and injury around the home falls. This is why it is important to keep the home free from hazards that can cause falls.
For seniors, however, there are several reasons why the entryway in their homes should be kept safe. Seniors are among the most vulnerable in the society and are most likely living alone or in isolation hence an easy target of scams, frauds, and security ills. They are also more prone to falls and other accidents that occur around the home compared to other members.
Entryways can be kept safe in two ways
- Keeping them safe from break-ins
- Keeping them safe from accidents and injuries
Keeping entryways safe from break-ins
Entryways are usually the first target of entry by burglars followed by windows. Keeping your entryway safe from break-ins may not necessarily mean that you will prevent break-ins 100%, however, you will have succeeded in making your home less attractive or scaring away thieves which is an achievement in itself.
Here are ways of making the entryway safe from break-ins.
The entry door
A solid rather than a hollow door is just that, solid and tough it would take some effort to knock it out of position, a process that burglars are not ready to go through. Solid wood, fiberglass, and metal doors are considered among the toughest and safest materials to use on entryway doors.
Secondly, a door isn’t just secure based on the material it is made of. Other elements like hinges and locks need to be factored. Consider using a deadbolt rather than ordinary locks. The difference is that it is next to impossible unlocking a deadbolt without rotating its key inside it.
Strong hinges with strong long screws are an added security feature to doors. Consider having strong hinges which will not yield to kicks from burglars. In addition, you could strengthen the hinges with screws that are at least 3 inches long.
A brightly lit entryway is a good deterrence to intruders. A porch light that remains lit through the night is a good option. Alternatively, invest in a bright motion detector light which is the better option. Most motion detector lights are powered by electricity but a few others are solar powered and would be of great help during blackouts.
There is no underestimating the function of security cameras as far as the security of the front door and the entire home, in general, are concerned. Cameras let you see and identify intruders well before they get to your door and get help in time. On the other side of the coin, intruders tend to shy away from security cameras which is enough to give homeowners some peace of mind.
It doesn’t cost much to install a peephole on the main door yet a peephole can save one from forced entry by intruders who pose to be friends or family. Some intruders knock at the door and force their way in as long as the door is partly opened.
A peephole allows you to first see who is at the door before opening. During purchase, opt for a wide-angle peephole which will give you a wider field of view allowing you to see everyone at the door and what they have carried with them.
The doorbell camera is among the most recent security inventions. It is installed on the doorbell and linked to your smartphone, computer, tablet, or laptop. It captures the video of someone who is outside right from when they appear on your front porch.
The advantage of this system is that it lets you monitor your front door whether you are home or away. It operates remotely, without having to get up to check who is at the door or letting anyone know you are home.
Keeping entryways safe from accidents and injuries
Falls are among the leading causes of injury and death around the home among seniors and the entryway is among the hazardous areas. Good news is that the risk of falls and injury can be minimized by taking the following steps to make the entryway safe.
Since seniors are bound to use a wheelchair or a walker when they age, the doorway should be wide enough to accommodate it. This way, they will not have to look for an alternative means of getting through the door which may put them at risk of injury. Because widening the door can be a costly affair, the alternative is to expand using expandable door hinges which may increase the width of your door by up to 2 inches.
The normal door width is usually about 32 inches. However, to accommodate mobility equipment, this can be extended to 36 inches because a wheelchair would typically measure 27 inches in width.
Secondly, rather than doorknobs which make it hard for seniors with arthritis and weakened wrists to twist to open the door, lever handles present a much better gripping option. A second advantage with lever handles is that they can be used by both left and right-handed individuals because they are reversible.
The doorbell should be moved to an easily accessible position that is convenient for people with a challenge lifting their hands.
To help people handle one task at a time to minimize the risk of injury, setting up a surface or shelf for placing their items while handling other tasks will be quite in order.
Ideally, an entryway meant for use by seniors should not have steps at all because steps are among the top fall hazards in the home. A wheelchair ramp or low steps would be safer options. If absolutely necessary, steps can be integrated and should be 36 inches or more in width and ½ inch or less in height to accommodate seniors with a challenge lifting their leg. In addition, where there are steps, handrails should be incorporated on either side to give seniors a place to hold on when entering the house.
Exterior steps should be designed in a way that they will drain away water or snow which tends to accumulate during the wet season. This eliminates not just accidents that may occur as a result of the accumulated water but also the growth of fungi which is both slippery and dangerous.
Secondly, inside steps should be covered with a carpet and secured in place with double-sided tape to prevent tripping. The outside steps should equally be covered but with a non-slip rubber mat.
Just as the steps would be covered with a carpet, the entryway floor could also be covered with floor runners secured all round by tape so that it will not become a tripping hazard. However, avoid throw rugs since they are a major hazard for seniors. While laying the carpet, stay away from overly thick carpets as they only increase the chances of tripping neither is it a favorable surface for pushing a wheelchair. A low-profile or slimmer carpet which is at least ¼ inch in height should do especially for wheelchairs and walkers.
Secondly, any clutter lying around the floor including electrical cords should be removed. Obstructed pathways are a top tripping hazard not just for seniors but also for everyone else who uses the entryway.
Some floors would do with hardwood or vinyl which are not slippery.
When integrating a lighting system, consider that the entryway should be brightly lit to illuminate the steps and other detail well. Secondly, the light should be installed in a way that it will not cast shadows on some areas while illuminating the others.
Secondly, illuminated rocker switches are a good option because seniors will not have to fumble in the dark trying to find the switch in order to switch on the lights.
Grab bars are a must-have on entryways used by seniors particularly those with stability and balance challenges. Grab bars should be placed conveniently both on the inside and outside of the entryway.
While installing grab bars, ensure that they are also skid proof so that they will not present another hazard instead of solving a problem. Finally, consider the mounting options, some people will be comfortable with a vertically installed grab bar while for others a horizontally installed grab bar will be more beneficial.
Safety and security are necessary if people are to live in their homes peacefully. More often, it is within our means to put in place safety and security measures that will eliminate chances of accidents, injuries or even deaths and the earlier we do this the better.