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Self-defense tactics for seniors

Posted 09/13/2016 7:33 am by


Criminals often view older Americans as easy targets, causing some seniors to live their lives in fear. Two-thirds of seniors believe they will be crime victims at some point, with nearly half of those 75 and older afraid to leave their homes after dark.


To avoid becoming a victim, seniors must take action. Let’s look at a few critical strategies for reducing the chances that you or an older loved one will be targeted.


Take basic precautions


Many problems can be avoided with common-sense precautions that reduce your vulnerability to criminals. When you’re out and about, this means:


  • Be alert to what’s around you and walk with a purpose
  • Park in well-lit areas and have your keys ready in hand
  • Don’t load yourself down with packages
  • Carry a whistle to alert others for help


When you’re at home, steps include:


  • Always lock your doors and windows
  • Never open your door for strangers
  • Monitor and report suspicious neighborhood activity
  • Call 911 if there’s trouble.


These simple steps can reduce your likelihood of becoming a victim, but they only work if you commit to following them at all times.


Improve your physical fitness


Many older Americans are afraid of being victimized because they aren’t as strong as they once were. One way to address this is to take a self-defense course for seniors, often available for free at the local YMCA.


Improving your physical health also makes you less vulnerable to criminals. Eating healthily, getting your daily vitamins, taking regular walks and engaging in low-impact strength training all help you become stronger.


Arm yourself


Merely the sound of cocking a shotgun can be enough to scare off a burglar. A handgun is easier to fire, but more difficult to aim. Guns and knives can be turned against you, so you’ll want to think carefully before relying on these weapons.


Pepper spray is a popular weapon for stopping criminals in their tracks, and it can be used both at home and when you’re out. The key is to have easy access to the spray, such as on a key chain and in your hand while walking to your car.


Use your wits


One of your best defenses, both to prevent an incident and respond to an attack, is your mind.


  • Carry a fake wallet to give potential robbers, and keep cards and cash in a travel wallet or pocket
  • Take anti-burglary measures at home such as using auto-timed lights when you’re away or a security bar so criminals can’t kick in your door
  • Use what you have nearby as a weapon, whether that’s a cane or even a set of keys
  • Participate in efforts such as the Watch Your Car program, which allows cops to pull over your vehicle during hours when you don’t normally drive it.


Many seniors say their fear of becoming crime victims makes them feel both lonely and isolated from the outside world. The only way to eliminate fear is through action. A good place to start is with the steps outlined here, using a combination of common sense and proven physical protection methods.


— Frank Bates



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