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?
Self- Defense Cat Keychain
- 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!