Although the elderly are least likely to become victims of crime, fear can cause older citizens to radically alter their lifestyles and retreat into isolation. Even a petty crime can cause major physical, emotional, and financial trauma for the elderly person.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Older people can benefit from precautions that reduce their vulnerability to crime. Everyone, from youth to adult can help. A phone call, a short visit, and an offer of help will make older neighbors feel safer and maintain or rebuild their trust in the community.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population numbers. Be skeptical about any proposals that sound too good to be true or have to be kept a secret. Check it out with friends, lawyers, the police department, Better Business Bureau, and your county consumer affairs department.
Be Especially Wary Of:
- "Get rich quick" schemes for which you have to put up "good faith" money.
- "Good Deals" on expensive repair or home improvement jobs.
- Investments that promise unusually large returns.
- Someone claiming you owe money for an item ordered by a deceased spouse or relative.
- Work-at-home schemes, door-to-door sales, supplemental Medicare insurance, miracle cures, glasses and hearing aids at bargain prices.
If you are victim of fraud, call the police immediately.
When You Are At Home:
- Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Keep locked at all times.
- Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks.
- Use timers on lights to make home appear occupied when not at home.
- Never let strangers in your home without checking their identification.
- If living alone, don’t advertise it. Use only your first initial in phone books, directories and apartments lobbies.
- Get to know neighbors and keep their phone numbers handy for emergencies.
- Work out a "buddy" system with a friend to check on each other daily.
- Keep bonds, stock certificates, seldom worn jewelry, and stamp and coin collections in a safe deposit box.
- Don’t hide extra house keys under a doormat or other obvious spots.
Senior Citizens, Take Action
Staying active in your community will help you to feel safer and help to make your neighborhood a better place to live.
- Join a neighborhood, apartment, or window watch or citizen patrol.
- Become a foster grandparent or block parent for children who may need help in an emergency.
- Volunteer for a local court watch to help make court more responsive to citizen needs.