Fire Safety Tips for a Hearing Impaired Senior in Colorado

Dear Kirsten:

I am the primary caregiver for an older aunt who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her health is pretty good considering she is 88 years old. She has arthritis and that makes her move a little slower, but she still maintains her own condo and does all of her own grocery shopping and cooking.

My biggest concern is her hearing. She doesn’t think it’s a problem, but it really is. I can’t convince her to let me take her to get her hearing checked. My kids and I were at her house a few days ago for dinner and she set off the smoke detector while cooking. She never even heard the alarm! What worries me most is that she is a lifelong smoker who refuses to quit. I’m so afraid she will cause a fire with her smoking and then not be able to hear the alarm!

Any advice?


Dear Amanda:

Talk about a tough situation for a family caregiver to manage! Smoking and hearing loss are definitely a dangerous mix, but it doesn’t sound like you will be able to convince your aunt to change her ways at this point in her life. You are right to worry, though. Seniors over the age of 85 are nearly five times more likely to be harmed or fatally injured in a fire. That is a frightening statistic for any caregiver.

Life-Saving Smoke Detection Systems

What might help you sleep better at night is if you installed a smoke detection system designed specifically for those with hearing loss. I know it may be tough to convince your aunt to do since she doesn’t think she has a hearing problem, but these life-saving systems are fairly unobtrusive.

Many of the newer systems are wireless so there are no lengthy or complicated installations required. Your aunt would wear a device similar to a watch. If the smoke detector is triggered, a display signal and a unique vibration both are sent wirelessly to the watch to alert your aunt. You can even add an optional feature that shakes the bed in case she is sleeping when a fire breaks out.

Fireproof Your Home

There are a variety of other resources and tools available to help you better fireproof your aunt’s home. This fire safety checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will help you evaluate her home for potential risks.

Best of luck to you, Amanda! Please feel free to contact me again if you need help evaluating elder care resources for your aunt.


Before reading this were you aware that smoke detection systems existed that are specifically for those with hearing loss? Let us know in the comment section below!

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