Safety for the new Century
America's seniors now make up 12.4 percent of the total population. According
to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number is expected to rise to over
18 percent in the next 20 years.
With the growing population of seniors, there is also a growing concern
about their well-being and safety. Last year, due to the increased
volume of calls coming into the police departments and the reported
crimes committed involving the senior citizen population, several
safety seminars and programs were developed to educate our seniors.
The state of Florida, known for its high concentration of seniors,
in cooperation with local county sheriffs offices, created a program
where senior citizens and those in law enforcement can address the
growing concerns of senior safety. Identity theft, telemarketing scams
and home security were among those targeted. Other states are using
the Florida pattern and developing programs to provide simple safety
tips for seniors to remember.
Safety tips include, ways to make doors and windows more secure, the
promotion of an alarm system, and, owning a dog. Anything that makes
noise will wave a red flag for any criminal and cause them to move
on. When someone comes to the door, look through a peephole or safe
window before opening it and ask any stranger for his or her name
and identification. Do not let just anyone come in and use the phone,
offer to make the call and relay the message to him or her. Also,
according the National Institute on Ageing, it's okay to keep the
door closed and locked!
Be wary of Internet Web sites asking for credit card numbers as well
as door-to-door sales people who do not offer a receipt with purchase.
Top scams against senior citizens over the phone include sweepstake
contests, prepaid phone cards and pre-approved credit cards. Did you
know, in some states telemarketers can keep as much as 85 percent
of what a person donates to the product or group they are pitching!
Rather than making a donation over the phone, consider mailing it
directly to the organization. Always question businesses and/or organizations
that ask for money up front and promise sure success. There are no
miracle cures for health or mental problems; unlicensed people may
try to sell you "cures" for cancer, baldness, arthritis
or other problems. Always ask a licensed professional about the effectiveness
of these products. In other words, stay away from deals that are "too
good to be true". When all else fails, contact your local Better
Criminals tend to go for the young, weak, old or meek. When running
daily errands go with a friend or let others know where you intend
to go and when you intend to return. If for any reason, the area or
place seems uncomfortable or strange, do not feel bad about leaving.
Awareness is the key factor in Senior Safety.
Be sure to limit the amount of cash you carry in your purse or wallet
and make sure all credit or debit cards are properly signed or have
"see ID" or "check ID" where the signature should
To protect your vehicle against theft, use a method of identification
called etching. This process takes as little as three minutes and
consists of etching the vehicle identification numbers into the glass
panes of the car. This process is also encouraged for other expensive
items, such as TV's, cameras and videocassette recorders. Continue
awareness around and inside your vehicle. Before taking a trip, make
sure your vehicle is in good running condition, schedule regular tune-ups
and keep up with fluid changes. Do not stop for gas late at night,
unless you absolutely have to. When walking toward your vehicle in
a parking lot or garage, have the correct key in hand; this eliminates
the time spent outside the vehicle where you are vulnerable.
Once inside, lock all doors and keep windows rolled up. Do not stop
to pick up hitchhikers or stranded motorists. A person may look innocent
and harmless, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If the person
seems to be genuinely in stress, travel to the nearest safe place
and call 911.
Even though crime can strike anyone, anywhere, preventative measures
can be taken to keep seniors safe. Most state and local law enforcement
agencies have senior protection programs and services available. These
programs and agencies can be found in your local telephone directory
or you can simply call an operator for directory assistance.