Helping Seniors Avoid Becoming Crime Victims While Aging in Place

Seniors who choose to age in place – as many are doing – may be at elevated risk for becoming victims of crime.

Older adults are often seen as more vulnerable targets than those who are younger.

This is not a reason to avoid aging in place, rather reason for taking some precautions when doing so.

Seniors oftentimes live in the┬áneighborhoods where they have lived throughout their lifetimes – where they raised their children and welcomed their grandchildren. Unfortunately, many of these neighborhoods have turned over, with long time friends and neighbors gone. Stable areas may become targets for crime by those who live elsewhere.

Seniors are often targeted at higher than average rates by criminals for robbery, purse snatching, pick pocketing, home repair fraud, scams and even car theft. The consequences of these crimes often include injury to the seniors in addition to financial loss.

Here are some tips to share with your senior loved ones to help keep them from becoming victims of crime, whether in their own homes or out in the community.

Tips to Stay Safe At Home

  1. Be sure all window and door locks are functioning. If necessary, update them today to newer, stronger locks.
  2. Remind seniors to keep their doors, screen doors and windows locked when away and at home. Many grew up not needing to do this so it may be a new habit.
  3. Suggest they never open the door until checking to see who is there – and then only if the person is known. Look through the peephole. Don’t have one? It is time to get one installed; they are usually fairly easy to add to an existing door. Strangers shouldn’t be allowed into the home even if they look “nice” or seem friendly.
  4. Large amounts of cash should not be kept on hand or in plain sight as it may attract attention and put your senior in danger.
  5. Arrange for any checks to be deposited directly into the bank instead of mailed to your senior’s home to take away the opportunity for theft from the mail.
  6. As a caregiver, make friends with the neighbors and get their phone numbers so you can check in via them as needed. Form a partnership to help them and let them help your senior.
  7. Keep the bushes trimmed around the house so criminals can’t hide out and be unnoticed while waiting to break in.
  8. Vital information, such as social security numbers or credit card numbers, shouldn’t be given to strangers over the phone. Keep in mind that thieves may identify themselves as being from a trusted company. Suggest loved ones call a known number for the company before giving any information.
  9. Someone simply showing up at the door should typically not be hired to do repair work. If they are, payment shouldn’t be made up front as too often neither the money nor the workers are seen again.
  10. Warn your senior not to transfer or withdraw money from their bank account for a stranger. Bank employees will not ask call asking for this and family members are not likely overseas needing a money order (often callers will identify themselves as a grandchild in a jam).
  11. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall victim to a scam.
  12. To keep loved ones from falling victim to “fundraisers” for bogus charitable organizations that may come calling at the door or on the phone, suggest not giving money to unknown entities during that meeting. Those from legitimate charities will gladly provide written information for review and possible contributions later.

Tips to Stay Safe When Away From Home

  1. When your senior is out running errands, taking a walk or enjoying a neighborhood park, encourage them to be aware of the environment and people around them. Stay alert to strangers or suspicious people.
  2. Suggest that loved ones only go out when they can be joined by a friend or family member – especially at night. Avoiding driving at night, especially alone. If your senior does go out, remind them to park in well lit areas.
  3. When in the car, don’t open the door or even roll down the window to a stranger.
  4. Have your senior keep his wallet in the front pocket or carry her purse with the strap over the shoulder close to the body.
  5. Urge your senior loved ones not to fight back if someone does try to snatch their purse, wallet or packages to avoid being injured. Let them know nothing they are carrying is worth it!

Remembering some of these tips and reminding your senior’s from time to time about them may help keep them safe as they age in place.