This may be the first time in our lives that we are living alone. While living alone offers privacy for some guilty pleasures, like eating chocolate ice cream in bed, it may also present some anxiety. The best way to combat vague anxiety is to list all the potential hazards, and to develop prevention strategies for each. This list might be a good start to making us feel confident about being alone.
Are We Really Alone?
• Make friends with your neighbors. Ask them to keep an eye on your house, and to call you if they have a concern. For example, if I haven’t picked up my newspaper from its box by 10:00 am, and my car is here, I may be having a problem. I would appreciate a call from a neighbor.
• Our neighbor should know our children’s contact information
• Develop a network of friends who will swap driving to such appointments as colonoscopies.
• Consider a medic alert bracelet that will call for help under any scenario.
Fall Prevention Tips
Falls are responsible for many injuries that can take away our independence. There are many strategies that we can use to reduce the risk of falling.
• Remove items that might trip you from walking areas. This includes electrical and phone cords, and oxygen tubing.
• Remove small throw rugs or use non-skid mats to keep them from slipping
• Never stand on a chair, table or other surface on wheels
• Clean up all spills immediately
• Install handrails in the bathroom and railings along the stairs. If you need a cane or walker, use it rather than reaching for furniture.
• Work with a physical therapist or personal trainer to strengthen your balance responses.
• Use a nightlight to guide the trip to the bathroom during the night.
Keep Your Cell Phone with You
• If you have to climb a ladder, say to change the batteries in your smoke detector, place the phone on the floor beside the ladder. If you fall, you’ll be glad to have it.
• In the bathroom, when you are getting in and out of the shower.
• When you go outside, say to get the newspaper or to fill the birdfeeder, in case you slip on ice or wet grass.
• When doing strenuous activity, especially if you have had heart problems.
• When driving alone.
• Use anti-virus software.
• Change your passwords from time to time. Write them down, and keep them in a secure place.
• Do not click on links unless you are sure that they are safe. You may get an email from someone you know, and it tells a bizarre story, and asks you for financial help by clicking on a link. It is probable that your friend’s account has been hacked. Call your friend to confirm that the email is a hoax.
• Never give your personal information in response to a solicitation.
• The IRS and Social Security will never contact you by email.
• Do not tell the world via social media that your house is empty.
• Have a plan to manage fire in your home. Have escape routes developed.
• Candles are responsible for many fires. If you must light candles, be sure to keep them away from paper, your clothing, or other flammable items. It is safer to use a snuffer than it is to blow out a candle, as blowing can spread a spark. Do not leave a room or fall asleep with candles burning. Have a supply of flashlights with good batteries in case of power outages rather than using candles.
• Do not smoke in bed. Put out cigarettes in proper containers.
• Have fire extinguishers in the kitchen, workshop, and near the computer.
• Have smoke alarms with carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries twice a year or according to the directions.
• If you have a fireplace, get the chimney inspected and cleaned every year.
• Do not try to put out a fire yourself. Call 911 from a neighbor’s home if necessary.
• If you have firearms, store them safely, especially if children are ever in your home.
• Be sure that you have been well trained in the use and safety of the gun.
• You probably have the gun for the purpose of self-protection. Only pull it out if you intend to use it, because it might otherwise be used against you.
• To deter a home invader, be sure that anyone you let into your home is there for the legitimate provision of a service that you have contracted for. Use good locks on your doors. Consider an electronic surveillance system.