Expert Elder Care Guidance

Log in

Enter your username and password below.

Request new password

Enter your username or email address.

You are here

Senior safety and security outside the house

help for seniors
This guide to making the outside of the home safe takes into consideration not only the things that need to be done to prevent slips and falls outdoors, but also the things that should be done so that an older adult feels less vulnerable when entering and leaving the house. 
For some, safety for elderly people entails overcoming feeling physically at-risk. For instance, the fear of falling and breaking a hip plagues many older people. And no wonder: more than 300,000 people break their hip each year. Icy sidewalks and steps can pose a very significant threat.  
Older people are also easy targets for burglars and other criminals. Often, they respond to these potential threats by barricading themselves behind closed doors and refusing to leave the house. This can lead to isolation, loneliness and depression. Luckily, help for seniors to keep their home safe is readily available.
Six steps to making the outside of a home safe
Before you begin, do some basic research into how your parents are feeling about the outside of their home. For example, if your mom seems afraid to go out, start by asking what makes her feel this way. Perhaps there's poor lighting along the path to the house, it takes her too long to unlock the door, or overgrown bushes make the entrance too dark. It's a good idea to accompany her home from an outing so that you can better identify what's causing the anxiety.
Once you've surveyed the environment outside the house and have a better sense of what makes your parent feel insecure, here are some things you might want to consider:
  1. Install motion-sensitive lighting and timers. 
    Motion-sensitive lights automatically come on when movement is detected directly outside the house. This signals to would-be intruders that someone is at home and aware of their presence. At the same time, lights will always come on when your parents return from an outing, even if they forgot to turn them on before leaving.
    Timers are another inexpensive way to burglar-proof a house and are easily installed by plugging them into an electrical outlet. Install timers both inside and outside. For instance, a light in the bathroom can be programmed to remain on throughout the night so that potential intruders think someone might be awake. 
  2. Secure the path into the house.
    • If your parent is driving and has a garage without an automatic door opener, it might be time to get one.
    • Wherever your parents park the car should be well lit. Consider remote-control lighting that is activated as they enter the driveway.
    • Make sure the pathway to and from the house is clear of any obstacles. And even though your mom loves those bushes surrounding the house or along a pathway, you may need to relocate them to another part of the yard, particularly if they block safe lighting or create a good hiding place for an intruder.
  3. Prepare for cold weather. 
    In cold weather, always make sure your parents are well-stocked with rock salt to tackle icy sidewalks. Better yet, hire a service or a responsible neighbor to maintain their driveway and sidewalk throughout the winter.
  4. Encourage the use of taxicabs. 
    If your mom likes to go out in the evening but doesn't drive at night or is afraid to come home alone, treat her to a cab ride to and from her destination. Most cab drivers, if asked, will wait until their fare is safely in the house before they leave.
  5. Install keyless entry or new locks.
    Make sure the lock to the outside door opens easily and quickly. Your parents may become nervous if they have to work with a lock or a key that’s become difficult to negotiate, perhaps because they have arthritis. Keyless locks are available at any hardware store, but make sure both your parents are able to remember the code. Keyless locks are also great for opening and locking car doors.
  6. Install a security system. 
    If you can afford it, investing in a security system protects your parents and provides both you and them with peace of mind. Before you go this route, make sure your parent are able to operate the system and won't constantly trigger the alarms.
And don't forget the simple things: installing an intercom or a peephole in the front and side doors, and placing decals on the windows to make it appear that your parents have an alarm system - even if they don't. You can even get a timer system that turns on a radio a few minutes before your parents enter the house so that the noise will alert a burglar to leave.
The bottom line:
  • The great outdoors can be a scary place for older adults, who may feel vulnerable as well as afraid of falling and breaking a hip. Your parents may react to these fears by avoiding leaving the house, which can lead to isolation, loneliness and depression.
  • To address your parents' fear of falling, ensure that pathways into the house are clear of obstacles and, in winter, ice and snow.
  • Installing motion-sensitive lighting, timers, keyless locks and security systems are types of help for seniors that can help relieve the fear of intruders.



All rights reserved