Tag Archives: senior

Changing Times Call for Changing Habits: 3 Ways to Keep Senior Citizens Secure

Gone are the days of leaving doors unlocked and not having to worry about securing all electronic belongings. Every year cyber predators get more sophisticated, but one rule still holds true: Most criminals like an easy target. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber safety, senior citizens are that easy target. Handwritten checks, passwords written on a note taped to your computer, and trusting other online users are all red flags to criminals that they have found their mark. Whether you’re of the older generation or you’re worried about the cyber safety of an older parent, here are some tips to stay ahead of the bad guys and feel more safe and secure…

Guard Your Passwords
Creating a secure password is the first step to keeping your information private. A secure password is a unique, long (at least 8 characters), and personal code that you create. By personal, this does not mean your birthday or any other easily guessed and attained information, but rather something you will remember. A password that includes your favorite high school teacher and the year you graduated is a lot harder for a stranger to figure out than your anniversary. Once you’ve created this unique password, do not write it down to store near the device you are securing. This practice might be easy for your own access, but it could also lead to a breach in your security. Nor should you use the same password over and over again at different websites. If it’s compromised once, then it gives a thief access to everything.

Don’t Trust Every Phone Call
Many scam artists have begun to target senior citizens with phone calls pretending to be someone they are not. The IRS will not call and threaten to throw you in jail for delinquent taxes. Microsoft does not call you because there was a security breach. Companies and governments do not have the time to call individuals to resolve the issues over the phone. Mortgage companies and banks do make you confirm your identity before discussing your account, however, you should only trust that these companies if you called them. Do your research on the company calling before giving away personal information.

New Home, New Gadgets
Many senior citizens downsize or move to retirement homes as their children grow up and move out. In a previous home, you may have known your neighbors and felt safe and secure. There are no guarantees that your new neighbors will be as trustworthy. The best way to avoid problems is to equip your home with preventative security. Lights set on a timer are a great example! If certain lights turn on even when you’re not home, then a burglar or nosy neighbor will never be able to learn your schedule. Setting up a new WiFi? Make sure to connect one with a secure network. Most phones and devices will remember the password, so only visiting grandchildren will be inconvenienced. And not allowing strangers to access your WiFi will make everything you do online safer!

Sure, they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but personal security is no trick. Changing our habits comes with the changing times, and online or home privacy is no exception. Even if you yourself aren’t a senior citizen, helping a friend, relative or neighbor ensure their security is a great way to practice the habits for yourself. Here’s to longer, happier, and more secure lives for us all!

Three More Ways to Keep Older Adults Safely Living on Their Own

They say America is aging and statistics show that to be true. By 2050, the number of Americans over 65 years of age will reach 88.5 million. That’s twice the number in 2010, meaning in just 40 years, our country’s older population will double.

As our population ages, we are most of us likely to fall into one of two categories: the “older adults” who want to stay independent, and the children of those older adults who are trying to support their parents in their independence.

We’ve written about keeping seniors safely living on their own before, in our blog post called Keeping Seniors Safe: 6 Tips to Keep Your Parents Independent Longer. In that post, we talked about ways to make sure the kitchen and bathroom are safe, coaching our elderly relatives on safe social media usage, ensuring the lighting is good, and installing a home security system.

We’ve also written about how a home automation system can help senior citizens to stay in their homes.

In this post, we build on that previous advice to add three more nuggets that have come to our attention with additional research into keeping seniors safe when living alone.

Prevent falls when you put things within easy reach
I’m not yet an older adult, but I still make my husband cringe when I stand on a chair or jump up in the air to reach a bowl on a top shelf. In his mind, his accident-prone wife is only asking for an injury, and he’s right. For our older parents and relatives, it’s imperative that they can reach what they need to decrease the chance of a fall. I’m not suggesting your 77-year-old mother will climb on a chair, but you never know. Mine would! (Maybe that’s where I get it?) Those things they are likely to need should be easy to reach, neither too high nor too low.

Have groceries delivered to cut down on driving
Driving is one act of independence older adults really struggle to give up, it seems. And perhaps they still drive just fine, but their reaction times have slowed and the drivers around them don’t know it, putting everyone at risk. Statistics show older drivers tend to be in more accidents. If you can have groceries delivered, you can cut down on the driving—plus the chances of a fall in a grocery store or parking lot. (If you need guidance in talking to an older relative about driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association offers excellent advice.)

Make sure they are getting social interaction while staying safe online
Speaking of driving, once seniors either drive less or stop driving, their degree of social interaction can decrease significantly, leading to loneliness and depression. Some older adults will turn to social media for interaction. If that’s the case, make sure you go over safety guidelines with them. Talk to them about passwords, identity theft and safe social media usage. Then be sure they are getting real-life interaction as well, through activities and family time. Yes, you’re busy. But this is part of keeping older relatives safe, because seniors living in isolation have a higher mortality rate.

With the population of Americans over age 65 doubling in just 40 years, chances are we will either be in that group or taking care of that group. Knowing ahead of time how to help ourselves or others to stay safe later in life while still enjoying our independence can be a huge help in preventing accidents and their long-term consequences—that make independence

Home Automation Helps Seniors Stay Put

I’m at the age when my generation is helping their parents to downsize or move into retirement homes. My own mother is determined to stay in her house for as long as she can, so I assume it will be several years before I’m in the same situation as my friends. However, I still want to be mindful that my mother is older, and therefore needs extra consideration if not a new place to live.

Home automation can help.

A home security system can provide peace of mind for both my mother and for me, because it means her house is being watched over. If the alarm is triggered, the police are notified and on their way. Home security systems can also monitor for heat and smoke, as well as carbon monoxide. However, home security systems that also offer home automation can provide even more peace of mind than a home security system alone.

How home automation can help seniors stay in their homes
The AARP says 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes. We as the children can help our parents to be safe at home with common sense tips like these, and by taking advantage of the features home automation can offer.

For example, home automation means you can schedule lights to be turned on and off at set times, in case your parent is getting forgetful, or they’re getting wobbly on their feet. Automated lighting means the lights can be on before dusk falls, so your parents aren’t fumbling around in the dark. It also means they have fewer reasons to be getting up and risking a fall in the first place.

Such a home automation system also enables you to regulate the temperature, especially important during the heat of summer and the cold of winter. If your parents are like my mother, then you’re already used to their house being too warm or too cold because they’re trying to save money on the heating or cooling bill. Yet our goal is to ensure they are always warm or cool enough. Automating the temperature control can do that for us.

If your parents are starting to forget simple tasks like locking doors or windows, a home automation system lets you lock up from afar.

Security cameras give you extra insight
Security cameras let you keep an eye on the home and property, and see who is at the front door when the doorbell rings. Those same cameras can help you keep an eye on your parents too, so you’ll know when they leave and when they return. That means you’ll know that they remembered the doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, for example, and then returned home safely afterwards. If you’re not living near your parents, you’ll probably appreciate the security cameras even more.

It’s challenging when the tables turn and it’s the children caring for the parents rather than the other way around. Taking advantage of modern technology to enable you to provide some of that care without seeming intrusive in doing so can help. And that’s just what home automation can do for you, your parents, and your peace of mind.

When Likes Lead to Liability: The Dangers of Like-Farming on Facebook

Imagine you’re scrolling along, scanning your newsfeed in Facebook and willy nilly liking things you see—not liking as in thinking, “Oh, I like that,” but liking as in clicking the “Like” button. That seems like a harmless activity, right? And it should be.

But it’s not.

As with most things in this world, Facebook “Likes” have been turned into a tool for nefarious behavior.

Called like-farming, it’s activity not allowed on Facebook but it happens anyway.

Like-farming on Facebook
The goal of a so-called like-farmer is to get likes. Farming is a good word for the activity: These people essentially start Facebook pages, “plant” content, and “grow” the numbers of likes—then “harvest” that information.

Think pictures of adorable kittens, or the photos of children with captions such as, “How many likes can she get?” These are the kinds of posts designed for one purpose: to get likes.

As people click on the Like button, these “planted” posts grow in popularity and therefore show up in even more newsfeeds—because Facebook is based on giving you more of what you seem to like, quite literally.

This all sounds harmless but it doesn’t stop there. According to the Consumer Affairs website, the next steps are the harmful ones:

“…once the page has a sufficiently high popularity rating, the like-farmer either removes the page’s original content and replaces it with something else (usually malware or scam advertising); leaves the page as is and uses it as a platform for continued like-farming in order to spread malware, collect people’s marketing information or engage in other harmful activities; or outright sells the highly liked site to cybercriminals in a black market web forum.”

Whoa. We’re not talking about kittens or cute kids any longer, are we!

Ways to protect yourself from like-farming on Facebook
Although the emotional posts are the ones we’re used to seeing as Facebook users, there are other tricks like farmers use, like fake contests or fake charity donations or posts that ask you to like if you’re also a (fill in the blank). An article at That’s Nonsense lists all kinds of ways like farmers trick people into liking and sharing posts. We highly recommend you read it.

That said, it’s easy to protect yourself from like-farming. We’ll start with the obvious: Don’t click on the Like button for everything you see. You can mentally appreciate a post without physically telling the world that you like it. You can also keep yourself safe with these tips if you want to keep clicking “Like” without worry:

  • Be suspicious. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Err on the side of caution.
  • If a post says you have to like, share and/or comment to take part in a contest, don’t.
  • Don’t be guilted into liking, sharing or commenting. You know those posts that say most people won’t copy/paste/share? That’s using guilt to get you to participate. Pass those posts by.
  • Be especially cautious about liking posts that are deliberately meant to pull at your heart strings. Like-farmers have no integrity. They will use a picture of a child with Down syndrome, a wounded warrior or an abused animal to their advantage. They will encourage you to click “Like” if you hate cancer, or type “Amen” if you love Jesus. You get the idea.
  • Also, any post that is out there to see how many likes it can get, from supposed photo contests to school experiments, should be avoided.
  • For more information, check out the tips on spotting like-farming posts here.

Lest you think it’s not such a big deal if you click on a dubious post, keep in mind that you are taking part in a scam when you do so, and encouraging others to follow suit. If your Facebook friends see that you’ve liked something, they might do the same. Should there be negative consequences to that, when the like-farmer gets to the “harvest” step, you’ll be the one that put their information at risk. Don’t be that guy.

And don’t like everything on Facebook either.

Facebook Foibles: 10 Social Media Safety Tips for Seniors

Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic among social media users: 35% of senior citizens are using social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and that number is trending decidedly upward. For many older adults, social media makes it possible to be connected with far-flung kids, grandkids and friends in a way never possible before.

Although people in that age group enjoy the connecting with family and staying in touch with friends, social media sites like Facebook are not without risks. If you’re in that 60+ demographic or you have a friend or family member who is, and engaging in Facebook or other social media usage, let’s go over some social media safety tips to keep seniors safe.

Social media safety tip 1: Use strong passwords
First and foremost, people of every age must use strong passwords when doing any activity online, not just Facebook. Accounts do get hacked, and if the password used for Facebook is used elsewhere too, that could lead to even more trouble. Seniors (and all of us, really) should follow advice for creating strong passwords. And, in my experience with older relatives, these passwords should be written down somewhere in case they are forgotten later.

Social media safety tip 2: Use the privacy settings
Seniors might not realize all that they are exposing themselves too when publicly sharing and communicating on sites like Facebook. Therefore it’s a good idea to have some kind of privacy set up. Facebook makes it easy to tweak all kinds of privacy settings. Take a look. There might be some areas you hadn’t considered that you definitely want to make private once you see all of the options.

Social media safety tip 3: Practice self censorship
In addition to using Facebook’s settings to make content private, seniors should be cautioned to practice self censorship as well. Not everything needs to be made public. If it’s information you don’t really need to share, don’t. This includes information about family members and friends too. Sure, you might be concerned about your niece about to have surgery, but sharing that in a public forum such as Facebook might go against your niece’s wish to keep her surgery private.

Social media safety tip 4: Beware scam messages
Just like email will deliver scam messages to your inbox, so will Facebook Messenger do the same. If you receive a message from someone you don’t know, you should probably ignore it. Period.

Social media safety tip 5: Be selective about your friends
Just like in real life, you don’t have to be friends with everyone. Be choosy. Just because someone sends you a friend request does not mean you have to accept it. Ask yourself, “Do I really benefit by being friends with this person on Facebook?” The fewer the “friends” the better, in many cases.

Social media safety tip 6: Keep your time away from home or alone to yourself
Under no circumstances should you publicly post that you will either be away from home or home alone. Even with strict privacy settings (see tip #2), that information could get to someone who does not need to know that your house is empty or that you are vulnerable. This goes for vacations too: Save your pictures until you are back home and then post them.

Social media safety tip 7: Verify before you share
Facebook is full of posts being shared by other users, but that does not mean you should share them too without verifying them first, especially after all of the fake news in the last presidential election. If you’re ever in doubt about the validity of a post, do not share it. Just let it be.

Social media safety tip 8: Don’t click “like,” don’t type “amen”
This same advice about not sharing applies to liking and typing “amen” too. Oftentimes you have a picture tugging at your heart strings encouraging you to click “Like” or type “amen” or do something else. This is probably a case of like farming and will only lead to trouble later. You can see it, you can have your heartstrings tugged, but you’re better off just scrolling right on past it.

Social media safety tip 9: Click less, not more
Sadly, Facebook is fraught with dangers, so be wary where you click. Try to only click through when you know it’s going to take you to a valid site, like a news site that you’re familiar with. Otherwise you are putting yourself at risk for a lot of ads or even malware. Just as with your friends, be selective about your clicks.

Social media safety tip 10: Know this—If it sounds to good to be true, it is
Promises of money, great deals, rewards…even if they come from friends (who might have had their Facebook accounts hacked)…should be ignored. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. So assume the worst and skip the post or delete the message.

There is much good that can come from senior citizens being on social media sites like Facebook. They can be much more connected than ever before, to family and friends. But the Internet is not a place ruled by the innocence of rainbows and unicorns. It has a dark side too. Making sure older adults understand and protect themselves from those dangers is imperative.

Stay Aware and Be Prepared: Tips for Keeping College Kids Safe on Campus

When those college kids head off to school this fall, you can’t send them with a home security system, but don’t you wish you could? Maybe an alarm system strapped to their bodies to protect them from any and all harm? My youngest will be headed that way next fall, and boy would I love such a protective device to attach to her, one with 24×7 monitoring!

Sadly, that kind of personal “home security system” exists only in my imagination (and I doubt I could get my daughter to comply anyway). Instead, I will need to settle for coaching her on good safety habits to practice while on campus, and really, these are good safety habits for anyone, at any stage of life.

Two of the biggest safety habits college kids can practice are to stay aware and be prepared:

Stay aware
Kids these days, right? Always looking down at their phones, always plugged into their music… It’s easy to mock them for this, but it actually is really dangerous behavior. Kids need to stay aware of their surroundings on campus, and that means the phone stays in the backpack while they’re walking and maybe they can get by with only one bud in an ear until they get to their next class.

It’s not just being careful with technology, however. Kids also need to learn their way around campus as quickly as possible so they are always walking with a purpose and they always know where they are—and then they need to stick to the beaten paths they’re familiar with.

They also need to be careful who their friends are, and to never, ever put themselves into a social situation where they don’t know anyone. It’s one thing not to know anyone else in your biology class, and quite another not to know anyone at that party off-campus where everyone is drinking.

And speaking of drinking, this is a huge one and maybe a difficult one to discuss with them, but kids need to know their awareness (and therefore safety) level is going to decrease with every bit of alcohol they consume.

Be prepared
Kids can also do some safety prep ahead of time, to help to protect themselves once on campus. In addition to learning their way around campus right away, they need to find out about security services, such as someone who can walk them back to the dorm if they’re studying at the library late into the night, or whom to call if something bad should happen. They should have emergency contact information loaded on their phones, and consider keeping pepper spray in their backpacks.

Although you’ll be spending a lot of time and money on getting them prepared and packed for their college days, you might want to invest in some self-defense training for your child as well, so they will be better equipped to defend themselves should something go wrong.

Also consider assigning them a little “homework” such as reading through the tips in this post on preventing sexual assault, because it will sink in better if they read it (and you perhaps quiz them) than if you’re only preaching this advice to them.

It’s also imperative that you and your child review some commonsense safety tips for social media usage—because they think they’re all grownup now, but you and I know they’re not, and a reminder about ways to be safety savvy online is a good thing, especially when they will be away from home and your watchful eye!

In addition, you can do some homework too. You’re free as the parent to do your own research, to discover how safe (or unsafe) a college is based on crime statistics and student opinions, and you might use this data to reinforce the importance of good safety habits. (You might even want to make this information part of the college selection process, if you haven’t committed to a school yet.)

All kids need good safety habits, not just college kids
Good safety habits can get started at any age, and in fact should get started at a young age if possible. If you still have younger kids at home not yet headed for campus, we have safety advice for them too that you might want to put into practice. See, for example, our tips on keeping kids safe on their way to and from school, safety tips for latch-key kids, and back-to-school safety tips for teens.

And be ever vigilant and diligent with your college student kids even after they’ve headed to their dorm rooms, reminding them to be safe, because it will be easy for them to forget all of your sage advice once gone!

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Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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