There is no doubt that as we become more advanced in years our risk of becoming victims of crime increases. Sadly, due to weakened strength, physical limitations, and diminishing senses, criminals see seniors as easy targets. Criminals seek the most vulnerable prey. Therefore, the more aware, prepared, armed, and trained our aged citizens are, the less vulnerable they will be and better equipped they will be to defend themselves.
Below are some practical things you can do to not only defend yourself, but to also make you or your home an unappealing target.
- Always be alert- Be mindful of your surroundings and what is taking place all around you. Your mind should be focused on and paying attention to what is taking place in the moment. Walking home or back to your car is not the time to be on your phone or trying to determine where you are going on a map. All of your senses should be engaged and alert. Situational Awareness is a key self-protection tool.
- Eyes up and scanning – Walk as tall and fluid as you are able with your eyes scanning your surroundings. Make brief eye contact with the people around you and those that walk by. This is very important in sending the message that you are confident and in-control. This not only deters criminals who are looking for unsuspecting victims but it also provides you with the ability to provide law enforcement with identifying information should you be the victim of a crime.
- Stick to busier places– Don’t shop or go to any remote, isolated places. Only park in well-lit spaces and find parking spots as close to the entrance as possible, even if it means having to circle the parking lot a few times to find an opitmal spot. Avoid remote alleys and streets. Take the route that keeps you in busier areas. The key is to be in well-lit areas and around people at all times.
- Be mindful of your personal image– If you know you will be by yourself, don’t dress flashy or have a lot of visible jewelry. This can tempt a criminal. If you carry a purse, place it under your jacket if possible when walking alone. You can also consider carrying your necessities in a waist-pack.
- Don’t talk to strangers – If a stranger asks you something and you don’t feel right about it, it is ok to ignore them. Criminals will deploy disceptive means to get your attention and to earn your sympathies. They may say they need help or try to draw you closer to them or their vehicle. The warning we drill into our young people “Stranger Danger” applies to all of us, regardless of age. Don’t worry about seeming rude when it is possibly your life on the line.
Tools and Tactics For Seniors
- Carry a gun if you are able – If you are able to do so safely then, yes, do this! You can find so many resources on this website to learn how to safely and properly use a gun for self-protection. Starting with our online course Women & Guns: The Basics. Simply owning a gun is not enough. You must be menatlly prepared to use it and have the training to use it properly and safely. You can read more about becoming a new gun owner here: Where Do I Start?
- Owning a gun may not be for all seniors. If you have mental or physical issues that would keep you from knowing when to use a gun and when not to, or that would interfere with your ablitiy to draw, shoot, and keep control of your gun then the carrying and use of a firearm is not for you. There are other tools and tactics that you can use to protect yourself. I explore some below.
- I am a believer in having and carrying a number of self-defense tools to be the best prepared for any situation. There are places that will not legally allow me to carry my gun so it is important to be trained and prepared to defend myself in any situation with a variety of self-defense tools.
- Time and distance are the goals in your self-defense. Any time and any distance you can create between you and your attacker is time to escape and to survive.
- If you are confronted or in any way feel unsafe, make as much noise as possible. Draw as much attention to yourself as you can. It may be a good habit to carry a personal alarm with you everywhere! You can even have it on your key chain. Even a loud whistle will do the trick, however, you have to be able to continuously blow it which can be a limiter for some seniors.
Personal Alarm with LED
- If they continue towards you – Use whatever you have on you. Throw dirt in their eyes, use your car keys to jab and scratch. Go for the eyes or groin, these areas are sensitive and will cause more of a distraction and allow you more time to run to safety. If you use a cane – USE IT! By the way, there is a growing trend called “Cane-Fu” have you heard of it?
- Pepper Spray– This can be a great, easy-to-use tool that can temporarily pause an attacker. Make sure you practice with practice spray, so you are efficient at using it. Here is an article that goes into determining if it is a good fit for you: Pepper Spray – Is It For Me?
- Stun Guns – These can be a great option, but this means that the attacker is extremely close or holding on to you. You must be committed to making sure your stun gun is always charged. If you find that you are that close to your attacker and have to use a stun gun, aim for the sensitive areas – groin, neck, or between the hip and the ribs. These are all sensitive areas that will temporarily incapacitate the attacker the best and give you the time and distance you need to escape. Here is a great article discussin stun guns for women: Advantages of a Stun Gun for Women
- Do all you can do to stay fit. Exercise daily to maintain your health and fitness. There are many online fitness programs that you can use if going to a gym is not possible.
- Take self-defense classes. Yes, they do exist! You can find local classes that will take your physical and mental ability into account and teach you the best way to defend yourself. Search for classes that focus on older persons in your area. This is a good idea for people of all ages.
Protecting Your Home When You Are a Senior
You want to feel safe at home, this is where you probably spend a majority of your time. There are good ways, not only for seniors I might add, to be proactive and make your house less of a target. Criminals hate light, sound, and witnesses. Keep these things in mind as you work to make your home as unappealing as possible to them.
- Keep all of your doors and windows locked all of the time. Lock them when you leave home and when you are home.
- Get a home security system with security cameras. Place the security company placards in your windows and in front of your house. This will let criminals know you have one and make your home more unappealing to criminals.
- Have motion activated security lights installed around you house – this means the side and the back yard as well. I well lit house is less appealing to someone trying to break in.
- Landscaping – plant roses, cacti, or other thorny bushes in front of ground floor windows when applicable. Keep the bushes around your home well trimmed. Don’t give criminals a place to lurk and hide.
- Locks – Install high quality deadbolt locks on your exterior doors and use 3 inch screws to reinforce the door strike plate.
- Install a quality security screen door. (Not Aluminum) These can provide effective layer of protection.
- Place a heavy-duty stick in the door track of sliding doors.
- Always have your phone with you and charged in case you need to use it.
- Do not-open your door for anyone until you have confirmed who they are and that they are supposed to be there. Criminals will use deception to get you to open the door. Do not allow anyone in your home under any circumstances, even if they say they need help. Call 911
- Know your neighbors! Make friends with and get to know the people who live around you.
Cyber Security: Seniors Are More at Risk
This is also another area when senior citizens are at great risk. Please read my article on how to avoid being a victim of cyber security: Keeping Your Identity Safe.
Growing older is a fact of life. We are all aging and we all will deal with the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with growing older. These realities do not have to mean however, that we must accept being vulnerable to criminals and sick, violent evil people. There is much we can do to “arm” ourselves with the tools, knowledge and training to be prepared to deny those that wish to do us harm access or victory over us. Aging is inevitable, but victimhood is not. Stay aware, stay strong, stay prepared and stay safe!
6 thoughts on “Seniors Citizens and Self-Protection”
Travel Security for Seniors
The Well Armed Woman has given us tips on Seniors and Self Protection. Since seniors travel more due to free time and disposable income, I thought I would give a few tips on travel.
• Be alert and rested while out hotel sightseeing. Fatigue may cause you to lose your purse, forget your jacket, stumble and fall, or step into traffic.
• You may walk more traveling so sturdy comfortable shoes critical. Sidewalks may be nonexistent and walking around and up and down temples can be hazardous. Consider a cane for those steps and hills.
• Busy places are safer and stay with your tour group. Safety in numbers and the tour guide speaks the local language. If you fall and twist your ankle, the tour guide can get you back to the hotel or to a clinic for medical help.
• Personal image. Dress for comfort, dress simply. Many carry a small backpack with a jacket when the weather changes, bottle of water, a snack and small first aid kit. Save that last glass of wine for the hotel bar or take it to your room to enjoy while relaxing. Jetlag, long days of travel, walking all day, weather changes, along with heavy food and wine can make you less alert. A stumble and fall could ruin your day or the rest of the tour.
Tourists are a source of income, in the US or abroad. I like to split up my cash and carry in in 3 places on my person. Then, if robbed, I am happy to immediately give them 1/3 of cash to end the encounter. Before any international trip, I strip my wallet of non-essentials. 2 credit cards and my drivers license, along with cash is a small package. As a man, I carry a 2nd
decoy” wallet, with some bulky low value cash (20 $1 bills) along with 5 small band aids and 5 larger ones for skinned knees. The band aids have come in handy many times while traveling, including in an airplane bathroom when I cut my eyebrow when brushing my teeth and we hit turbulence, striking my head on the soap dispenser.
Travel Tools and Tactics.
I always carry 2 flashlights to light my hotel room late at night and for dark stairs and streets during travel. One is a Nitecore keychain flashlight, always with me at home and while traveling. It is on the bedside table when I get up before my wife in a dark, unfamiliar hotel room. No stubbed toes. The other is a Nightstick light, small enough to carry in your hand and very bright. Both are USB rechargeable and I have given up using battery powered flashlights. Both lights I consider indispensable, every day, at home or outside the home on a dog walk.
Hotel Room Protection.
• Lock your doors while inside, room door and the patio or balcony door. I use whatever safety lock is on the door plus positioning a chair under the doorknob just in case. Rooms are sometimes rented twice, by mistake. I leave the TV on low along with a light when out of the room. Just in case.
In case of fire in the middle of the night, I want to exit quickly and safely. My lights are beside the bed on the nightstand. My shoes are positioned (with wallet, passport and keys in shoes) so I can step into them and I leave a shirt, pants and jacket ready to slip on, just in case. When I have a choice, in the US or abroad, I ask for a 2nd or 3rd floor room. Easy exit in case of fire, even if there is no elevator the climb is not too high, and less noise will disturb you. It never hurts to enter your room, unpack, then make that 1st trip downstairs to the lobby by the stairwell, for orientation and to check our locked or unlocked exits. In some areas, exits are chained and padlocked to prevent thefts, good to know if you need to escape quickly. In other hotels, exit doors are propped open for employees to smoke and carry goods in and out.
• As I age, I travel more than ever before. When jetlagged, I may dine in the hotel and retire early. My wife has been so tired in a museum that we decided to return to hotel, nap, relax, then return to our busy schedule that evening. Fatigue causes mistakes. Tours are great, you have a bus, a local guide who speaks the language and can help during an emergency. Guides know the safe places to visit, to eat, to enjoy. But we seniors have to do our part, so that each trip is safe, fun, with no accidents.
Really, really great advice. I do some of these things and some people think I’m paranoid. I say no, not paranoid, I’m prepared and aware . Thank you for a little confidence builder knowing I’m not crazy, just looking out for myself.
At 71, active and with a CCW permit this is a great article with great ideas that apply to ALL regardless of age.
The biggest issue is to be fully aware of your surroundings at all times.
Thanks for sharing.
I am a 53-year-old woman with a auto immune disorder which affects my muscles in a way that I have muscle loss in my upper arms. This muscle loss prevents me from holding my arms up for any amount of time. I mean if I had to hold my hand up to shoot someone I could definitely do it. But to stand in at a shooting range and hold my arms up the way I see people shoot seems impossible to me so I’m afraid if I went I would be discourage from buying a firearm. I live alone in a strange city well it’s strange to me just moved here last night I want to get my license to carry . I do not feel safe in this neighborhood there are strange people sex offenders peeping toms. I don’t have any friends out here yet and with this pandemic doesn’t look like I’m gonna be out making any anytime soon everybody knows I’m here alone this makes me so nervous I want to use my stimulus to buy a gun but I wanna be able to shoot it can you give me any advice.
PLEASE don’t be intimidated or discouraged! – You can safely shoot without overworking your arms. At the range – there should be a shooting table or platform where you can lay your gun down (muzzle pointing downrange toward the target) in-between shots. Or you can rest your hands on the shooting table while holding the gun pointed downrange and rest her arms. You will want to look for polymer guns as they can be lighter. I would also suggest the two following articles for more information!
Guns and Hand Limitations
The Well Armed Woman Gun Finder
You can practice shooting one shot at a time – you don’t need to hold your arms up for long periods of time.
You can do it!
One well placed shot is better than 10 that don’t hit their target. There are a lot of lightweight hand gun’s out there.