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Safety and Security as we Age

Safety and security are important to everyone, but can become particular concerns as one grows older. New technologies can help our everyday lives in all sorts of ways, but they too can bring their own problems and worries with regard to security. However, there are plenty of good practices and general advice that can be of benefit to anyone concerned about safety online or around the home.

When online, never send sensitive personal details or passwords to anyone who has contacted you by email or a messaging app. Banks and legitimate organisations will never request details in this manner. Added to which, never click on links or attachments in emails, particularly unsolicited ones, whose sender you do not trust.

If entering sensitive details or passwords, always be sure that you are using a suitable – secure – wi-fi connection. Password-protected networks are certainly the better option if you intend to make any money transfers or payments. You should always keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and look for the “https” (indicating secure encryption) at the start of the website address in the URL bar at the top of the browser before entering passwords or payment details.

Similarly, around the home always make sure windows and doors are locked securely, especially whenever leaving the house. If you’re going to be away for a few days, make sure that curtains or blinds are not left down and that you suspend deliveries of milk or newspapers, all of which are easy-to-spot signs that a house is temporarily empty. If you can set a lamp on a timer, this also helps dispel the impression that you away from home.

Making sure a trusted friend, neighbour or family-member has a spare key can be useful whether you are away or at home, particularly if you are becoming less able to hear doorbells or to reach the door quickly. As well as being more convenient, this will enable you to tell whether someone knocking at your door is likely to be a cold-caller.

If you do answer the door to an unsolicited caller, you should never feel obliged to let them in to your house: you have every right to check their credential, even by telephone if necessary, (and to close the door while doing so). Keeping a diary to hand by the door (but not in clear view) and updating it promptly with any scheduled visitors can be helpful, as can a similarly located list of your electricity, gas and water suppliers and their contact numbers. You are also perfectly entitled to ask your caller to return at a more suitable time (perhaps when you will have company), if you are at all unsure.

There are also lots of adaptations one can make around the home to improve security, from upgrading old locks to installing motion-sensor lighting and burglar alarms. Amongst the most useful are a door-chain or peep-hole, so that you can safely identify any callers at your front door. If cold callers are a nuisance on the telephone, then there are a number of call-blocking or -screening options now available either from your service provider or externally.

Some of these changes can be quite substantial, and if you are at all unsure, many branches of Age UK will be able to provide a list of approved local handymen to carry out any alterations. Age UK also provide some helpful and thorough advice in this handy guide. Of course, if you have a carer either full- or part-time, they will be happy to provide a second opinion or a reassuring presence in many of the circumstances outlined above. Peace of mind is perhaps the most important element in feeling safe and secure around the home.

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