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2016 Vintage Times

 

Top Story

Senior Safety for the new Century
by Tiffany Cooper

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 Business Bureau.

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 be.

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.

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