Help Keep The Old Safe In Our Community by Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun Newspaper 26th Jan 2013 p.18
The majority of older people wish to maintain their independence and live in their own home for as long as possible, so it is important that we come together as a community and take particular care to look out for older people and take security measures to help people stay safe.We should all check on our old family and friends especially in the cold and dark winters.Here are some handy tips for them.Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.Wear several light layers of warm clothes.To keep warm inside, wear long underwear under your clothes, along with socks and slippers. Use a blanket or afghan to keep legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap indoors.Make sure your home is warm enough. Set your thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees. Even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in older people.If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep.Check with your doctor to see if any medications you are taking may increase your risk for hypothermia.Keep as active in your home as possible.Use extra blankets because hypothermia can develop during sleep.Get proper rest, fatigue makes you more vulnerable to subnormal heat and cold.Drink adequate amounts of liquids, such as water. Limit your alcohol intake because alcohol speeds up body heat loss.Icy pavements can be very slippery so be careful. Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip on the soles if you need to go outside on cold days.Put cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping.If you live alone, arrange for a daily check-in call with a friend, neighbor or relative.The old need to stay safe and have added locks and their doors and windows, even when they are at home.They should only answer the door to people they know and never leave anyone inside without them showing you their ID.It is acceptable to close the door while you ring their company for verification of their employment and purpose at your house. Never pay cash for any building or services in advance.Do not leave a spare key outdoors. Do not hide your key outside under a doormat, a flowerpot or any place that may be easily uncovered by a burglar.Call the guards if you come home and find a door or window opened. Do not enter the house if there are signs of forced entry.They should keep their house lit at night.
Other tips include they should never travel alone with large sums of money. In events like shopping, or banking they should always consider bringing a family member or home help.You can now pay bills over the telephone, on the computer via online banking or by direct debit directly from your bank account.People who live alone can keep ‘paying guests’ in their house. However, a proper identification of the boarder and checking references from past landlords, before letting him in the house, is very essential.Access to the important documents and valuables should never be shared with any outsiders. Someone trustworthy should know about this information. Any kind of domestic help should be hired from registered organizations and their identification and garda verification must be checked before appointing them. Security measures should be high in the house and double bolted locks should be installed. Fire and smoke detectors are a must. Security cameras can be installed so that before opening the door, one gets to know who is on the other side.A very good companion and security device is a well trained dog. Dogs have proven to be extremely loyal and they can accompany elderly people even on morning walks, or if he has to go out at night.Senior citizens should never befriend unknown people easily and should never tell others about their personal secrets like banking details or other assets.They must have somebody to come and check on them on a regular basis, if possible everyday.In events like medical emergency they must always keep the medicines handy and call up the emergency number to avail of help.Any stranger or suspicious person they notice must be reported to the gardai.It is also an important duty of the children to look after their aged parents welfare and safety.
The Government has reversed the controversial decision to halve spending this year on personal security alarms for older people.The scheme costs €2.45 million and the decision to reduce this year’s spending to €1.15 million has been withdrawn.The original decision to halve the funding met a storm of protest after it was communicated to voluntary organisations which administer the scheme.Personal alarms are devices which can be used to alert a contact such as a neighbour, relative, friend or a monitoring service that there is an emergency situation.One such is the Assist Ireland Amie+ Tunstall Personal Trigger is a personal emergency call button that allows the user to make a call in an emergency even if the phone is out of reach. The trigger is designed to be carried discreetly and works on the 869MHz frequency. The trigger is supplied with a neck cord and can be used up to 50m from the alert unit. It can also be safely used in the shower.
Many people who live alone, or who are alone for long periods, choose to have an alarm system so that they can summon assistance should they require it.There is a large choice of systems available, ranging from simple pull-cord alarms which activate a flashing light or bell outside the home through to autodialler alarms which dial, via a telephone, directly to a 24-hour monitoring station.When selecting an alarm system, check that you can easily operate the activating switch. Also ensure that the person from whom you are summoning help will be able to get into your home to help you.The main ways to get a personal alarm are: from your local authority if you live in a local authority sheltered housing scheme,directly from the manufacturer or supplier or through the Seniors Alert Scheme, a grant support from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs that is administered by local community and voluntary groups.A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it had been decided late this week to reinstate last year’s level of funding for the scheme.
Many local authorities run an alarm scheme within their own sheltered housing schemes. However, their rules as to who they will supply, how they run the service and their charges will differ. Contact your local authority’s housing departments to get details.Some of the alarm manufacturers sell or rent alarms directly to the public. You can get information on some products and suppliers in the Products Directory of the Assist Ireland website. Age Action Ireland will also supply the names and contact details of commercial suppliers. All Irish suppliers provide their own monitoring service and charge an annual fee for the service.If you cannot pay for the installation of an alarm there is an annual grant available which covers the cost of buying and installing a monitored alarm system. This Scheme also provides funding for other safety and security equipment such as external security lighting, internal emergency lights, monitored smoke detectors and monitored carbon monoxide detectors.To be eligible for this assistance you must be: aged 65 or over and have limited means or resources,living alone or with someone who also meets the eligibility criteria,living in the area covered by the community group administering the grant support,able to benefit from the equipment being supplied and willing to maintain contact with the community group.The grant is funded by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Department uses local groups such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul to administer the scheme within the community. You should contact either your local community Garda, or the Department directly, to get the name of the group administering the scheme in your area. Some people may also choose to buy privately because they want the wider choice of equipment available on the private market.A directory of assistive technology, aids and appliances suppliers and services published annually. Available from:Access and Mobility Ltd,6, Ticknock Dale Sandyford,Dublin 18.You can telephone them at 01-206 3387 or Email: them at email@example.com or log on line to their website: http:w.accessandmobility.ie.