Thursday, 11 August 2016

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Harriet's Door

When Being TOO Safe, Becomes UN-Safe!

While it's all very well that the elderly in our communities feel safe and snug inside their own homes - it's an absolute pain in the bum when they, instead, inadvertently lock themselves in.... BECAUSE THEY CAN'T OPEN THE DOOR!

For example, one of my client's, Mrs Harriet Holdfast is 88 years old and is as sharp as a tack. Unfortunately, as is common with age, Harriet suffers instead with physical health issues: diabetes, high blood pressure and also a rare and painful bone disease that has caused her spine to become quite stooped.

As a result, poor Harriet is prone to falls (she's had about 100 while I've known her) and doesn't go out much anymore because it's all too hard and she'd rather stay put at home, thank you very much.

"So I can stay out of trouble!"

Elderly locking themselves in their own homes
Note:  this isn't actually Harriet
...just someone equally as suspicious 

Subsequently, Harriet has become quite the recluse.

Having no immediate family and spending a lot of time being alone, she puddles about at home with not much to do and with very little motivation to bother trying. Her beady-eye peering through twitching net curtains, Harriet has taken to snooping on her neighbours instead.

Keeping watch on every movement in her street, knowing everyone's business keeps Harriet a very, very busy girl!

But, add to this the side-effects of the strong medication she takes for her back pain (lack of appetitie, the 'shakes' and a relentless insomnia) ----->  Harriet has subsequently become a bitter and twistered old woman.

She has also become intensely paranoid.

To the point of being obsessive, Harriet now suspects anyone within spitting-distance of her property, of being an intruder.  And that they are 'casing the joint' to break in during the night and pilfer her great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother's sapphire-encrusted brooches or the posh Royal Doulton from her china cabinet.

"Crooks 'n' drug-dealers, the lot of 'em!"

  • The young postie Nigel, who roars into her drive each morning on his little red scooter, is actually an undercover spy for the government. ("I'll give HIM, toot-toot!")
  • Elderly Mr Stevens next door has been secretly poisoning her fig tree with chemicals he saved up from when he worked as a technician in the Navy. ("...never did like the shape of his face")
  • The ladies at the local Senior Citizens club only want to visit her " they can steal my scone recipe".
  • And the bank has been siphoning cash from her account ("...since the day I opened it"), to send money overseas to fund a terrorism campaign that will ultimately mark the end of the world as we know it!

Therefore, in order to keep these rotten evil-doers at bay, Harriet has installed a plethora of home security gadgets such as deadlocks, chains and peep-holes - including grilled security doors that are so solid she needs to take a run up just to budge them!

(Oh yes, the salesman saw her coming).

For goodness sake, some days when I visit Harriet, it's like Fort Knox hearing her sliding bolts and clinking keys before she finally wrenches the door open to let me in.

Unless, as happened today.... SHE COULDNT FIND THE KEY!

"Oh dear, sorry Dollie, the key to the screen door isn't working... or have I got the wrong key?  Oh, it's got to be one of these..."

<rattle, rattle... jingle, jangle>

Not only was this a huge time-wasting exercise, but while I stood there annoyed, waiting for the gate-keeper of the Tower of London to release her drawbridge... it dawned on me how much of a hazard it was for Harriet to be, literally, locked inside her own home like this.

  • What if her house was on fire - how would she get OUT?
  • What if she was having a medical emergency - how would the ambulance people get IN?

Twenty minutes later and it was still no-go!  Harriet by this stage had become completely flustered and I ended up having to instruct her to send the enormous bunch of keys out through the lounge window so I could have a crack from the outside.

We got there in the end - 12 keys later, arrrgh!

I have since informed my office that the issue of Harriet's over-secureness needed to be dealt with.  Or at least to roster carers with extra time to allow for the fiddle-faddling required to gain entry into Harriet's house.

Ironically, and it doesn't seem right when you say it out loud... but for her own safety ---- Mrs Harriet Holdfast needed to be a hell of a lot LESS safe!

“I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them.” 

Keeping elderly people safe at home
On ya, Lizzy!



  1. This is very true. My brother is so frightened of home invaders or thieves that he deadlocks all his doors, and refuses to discuss possible dangers that come from it. He would never escape a fire.
    The sad thing is that he has nothing at all worth stealing, and I believe home invasions are nearly always something to do with conflicts among illicit drug distributors, not a world he is involved with in any way. He is far too influenced by sensational news reporting.

  2. Agree totally, Sue. That's the frustrating part - they won't listen to reason because they know better. And because they saw something awful (and totally sensationalised) on the telly, so it must be true. Arrrgh!
    Hope you manage to sort your brother out - even harder when it's someone close.
    Thanks for stopping by as a fellow Ozzie blogger - your Blog looks great by the way. Nice and fresh.
    (We love FRESH!)