Tips for older adults living alone

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Living alone has risen to record numbers. More than a quarter of U.S. households are single person households, and the number of people living alone is larger than ever in history. Living alone is not just a trend, but rather a new way of life — one that can be fulfilling and exciting, but it also means meeting different safety challenges than when living with others. We asked Molly Schmid and Michael Alder, two experts on personal safety at the Lottie Project (a nonprofit alliance focused on empowering women) to share their advice for older adults learning how to live alone safely.

Stay in good health

  • Stay in good health.
  • Eat healthy food that’s easy to prepare and tastes good, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise every day, even if it’s just taking a walk around the block.
  • Stay active to stay healthy: go to church on Sundays, take classes at the community center, volunteer at a charity organization or senior center. If you can’t get out of the house because of your health, ask family or friends for help with errands such as shopping and taking out garbage bins (make sure these tasks are done safely).
  • Take a multivitamin every day—the vitamin C will boost immunity against illness such as colds; vitamin E will help protect against heart disease; calcium may reduce bone loss from osteoporosis; iron is important for mental function; folic acid helps prevent birth defects during pregnancy; zinc supports proper immune function; iodine promotes normal thyroid gland function and prevents goiter (swelling) by keeping thyroid hormone levels balanced—just make sure it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients like lead! The mineral selenium also supports proper immune system functioning and prevents cancerous tumor cell growth by interfering with DNA replication processes in tumor cells without damaging normal cells’ DNA replication processes.”

Build a close circle of friends

  • You need a support network. Your closest friends will be there to help you when you’re struggling, and they’ll also provide emotional support when you need it most. You can build your own support network by staying in touch with the people around you: family members who live nearby, or friends who live elsewhere but still check in every once in a while. If none of these options sound appealing, consider joining an organization that has regular events like movie nights or book clubs. These kinds of activities are great for making new friends and keeping old ones active in your life!

Fall-Proof Your House

There are a number of things you can do to make sure your house is safe for an elderly relative to live in.

First, install grab bars and non-slip mats at the bottom of doorways and tubs. This will help prevent falls and keep your loved one from becoming injured. Second, install handrails on staircases so they can easily grip the railings while walking up or down stairs. Third, if they live in a house with multiple floors, consider purchasing a stair lift so they don’t have to climb up using their feet all the time. Fourthly (this is getting wordy), if you have access to money, consider installing a home security system that features alarms linked directly with local police departments—it’ll let them know if someone goes through their house without permission when nobody’s there! Last but not leastly (that’s ridiculous), install carbon monoxide detectors around the house so that if something starts smelling funny it’ll be easier for everyone living there not just YOURSELF but also YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS too because  we’re all in this together now aren’t we?

Keep a Flashlight and Batteries on Every Floor

A flashlight is the most important item in your home. If a power outage occurs and you’re not near a window, you can easily find your way around the house with a flashlight. A small LED light will be easy to carry and won’t drain your batteries quickly.

You should also keep spare batteries on hand in case of an emergency that requires more light than your flashlight provides (for example, if there were smoke in the air). Be sure to keep extra batteries next to each flashlight so they are easy to replace when needed. If possible, purchase flashlights that have rechargeable batteries instead of those with traditional ones; this will make it much easier for you when there’s no electricity nearby!

Have a Phone Charger in Several Rooms of Your House

While it may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to remember that you will need a phone charger in several rooms of your house. You need one in the kitchen so that you can charge your phone while cooking or eating breakfast. You also need one in the bedroom because, let’s face it: no one wants to get up from bed just to charge their phone when they could be snuggling with their significant other or bingeing Netflix. And don’t forget about needing a charger in the bathroom! The last thing anyone wants is for themself (or their significant other) to become stranded on the toilet because their phones died completely and there was no way for them to call someone for help.

Finally, make sure that there are charging stations throughout the rest of your home as well – including living rooms and garages! If an emergency were to arise while cleaning out closets or working on cars (or even simply relaxing), having several stations around means everyone will always be able to stay connected with loved ones at home and abroad

Make Sure Your Contact List is Updated

Your contact list should contain the names and phone numbers of people who can help you in case of an emergency. This list should be stored in a secure location, so that if someone breaks into your home, they won’t be able to access it. You should also have a second copy of this list stored with another trusted person or family member.

Your contact list should include:

  • Emergency contacts (e.g., hospital and fire stations)
  • Family members and friends (e.g., children, grandchildren)
  • Neighbors

Make Sure Your Fire Alarm Works and Have an Exit Plan

In addition to the above, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your fire alarm is working properly. If you do have one, test it every once in a while and replace the batteries every 6 months. Have an exit plan for when there is a fire or other natural disaster. Make sure that everyone knows where the exits are and how to get out of the building safely if there were ever an emergency. Keep in mind that not all buildings require a fire alarm system; however, if you live in one with this requirement (and most do), make sure you know how to operate the alarm!

You should also have some sort of extinguisher on hand at all times—this could include water-based foam or powder-type extinguishers for multiple kinds of fires as well as class A or B (water) type extinguishers for electrical fires as well as class C (carbon dioxide) types for fuel fires like propane tanks or gasoline spills outside near garages/driveways etcetera…

Set Up Regular Check-Ins with a Loved One

A weekly check-in with a loved one is a great way to keep in touch and get assistance if needed. A weekly conference call or video chat can be effective, but even simpler things like emailing or texting your loved one will help you stay on top of things.

If you don’t already have someone who can be your go-to person, it’s important for you to find someone who will help you out if there’s an emergency. Consider asking friends, family members and neighbors for recommendations for people who would be available in times of need.

Invest in a Medical Alert System

If you’re living alone, it’s important to ensure that your safety is not compromised. One way to do this is by investing in a medical alert system. These devices are designed to help you stay independent and active in your home, even when you’re alone. You can wear them while doing daily activities like cooking or cleaning the house, so they don’t need to be reserved for emergencies only.

Medical alert systems also come in many different styles and sizes—so whether you live in an apartment building or have a single-family home with plenty of space for extra equipment, there should be something out there for everyone! And since these devices are often low-cost investments that pay themselves off over time (through reduced ambulance fees), there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t consider buying one today!


With a few simple steps, you can make living on your own safer and more comfortable. You’ll be amazed at how much peace of mind you can find by doing things like getting enough exercise, making sure you have the right emergency equipment (especially a medical alert system), and staying in touch with friends. We hope these tips help give you the confidence to stay independent for years to come!


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