Staying safe and secure at home

When you live at home with dementia, you may be vulnerable to scams and fraud. It is important you feel secure at home and stay safe online. 

When you are living with dementia, it is important to make sure you are safe and your home is secure. The following advice may help.

Tips for staying safe and secure at home

  • Always be careful when answering the door to strangers. You don’t have to open the door if you don’t recognise the person.
  • Think about having a chain and a peephole fitted on the inside of the front door. You can see the person and speak to them, without having to open the door fully to them.
  • Consider installing a video doorbell to your front door. This will allow you to see, speak to and record the person outside without having to open the door. With some models you can also choose family members or friends who will also be able to monitor the front of your property using their smartphones. These systems require wifi (wireless internet).
  • If you are expecting a visit from a tradesperson, try to arrange for someone you know to be at home with you. Keep a note of the tradesperson’s name as well as the date and the reason they are coming. It may be useful to put a note on the inside of the front door as a reminder. Always ask to see the person’s identification or ID before letting them in.
  • Outdoor sensor lights can keep potential burglars away and provide peace of mind during the night.
  • Consider fitting a burglar alarm, either yourself or using a professional alarm company. An alarm box fixed to the outside of your property can be an effective deterrent.
  • If you have bicycles or motorbikes, keep them secured to your fence or a post outside your property, or store away in a locked shed or garage. If you have a car, make sure it is always locked and the windows are fully closed.
  • Think about fitting new locks to your windows and doors, and make sure you know how to open and lock them quickly and easily. Your local police community support officer (PCSO) or Neighbourhood Watch – if you have one, can help. See ‘Useful organisations’. 
  • Consider having a telecare system fitted.
  • If you are going away, register with the Royal Mail Keepsafe service. For a fee, they will store your post at the nearest delivery office and deliver them when you return. This avoids a build-up of post at your front door, which can make your home look empty and more appealing to burglars.

How to keep safe from scams and fraud

Tricks, scams and fraud can take many forms. For example, someone trying to take money from you might try to convince you to buy a service or product that does not exist. Or they might charge you too much for something or try to get your personal information or bank details. They may pretend to be someone they are not to be let into your home to steal from you. Here are some examples of coronavirus scams.

The following tips may help:

  • Stop unwanted junk mail and telephone calls by registering with the Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service.
  • If you receive a letter that you are not sure about, or which seems too good to be true – for example, claiming you have won a prize, but telling you to provide information or money to claim it – ask someone you trust to read it too.
  • Consider putting a ‘no cold callers’ sign on your front door. You may be able to get one from your local authority (council). They are also available online.
  • If you have an unexpected visitor, always ask to see the person’s identification or ID before letting them in. If you aren’t sure, call the company they are from to check they are who they say they are. Don’t be afraid to shut the front door while you do this. If visitors are genuine, they will understand.

How to stay safe online when you have dementia

  • Make sure your computer, laptop or tablet antivirus software is up to date and that your smartphone is kept updated.
  • If you’re buying something online, look for reviews about the company on different websites. Don’t rely on reviews the company has put on its own website. Use a credit card if  you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
  • Don’t rely on seeing a padlock in the address bar of your web browser – these can be faked to make a website look secure.
  • If you get an email from a strange email address, or one claiming to be from your bank, building society, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or utility provider, don’t click on any links. Doing this could infect your computer with a virus.
  • If you receive a phone call, email or text asking for any personal information, you should not provide it. Instead, find the company’s official website using an internet search engine such as Google, and contact them to find out whether they have contacted you.