If you have elderly parents who still live on their own, you may be concerned about their security. While seniors are less likely than younger people to experience violent crimes, they are still at risk and are often targets for burglaries and cyber or telephone scams. Here's a look at three areas where your parents may need protection and what you can do to help them.
Elderly people are often targeted by thieves, particularly when they are away from home. While doing basic things like having someone take in the mail and leaving lights on are good ideas, there are other forms of protection seniors can take.
First, if they are not able to keep up the outside of the home, you or a service can do it for them. Trees and shrubs should be trimmed back to prevent hiding places for would-be burglars. All exterior lights should be in good working order with new bulbs. Window locks should be checked, as should door locks, and if numerous people have been in and out of the home over the years, the locks should be re-keyed.
One of the biggest deterrents to thieves is an alarm system from companies like Finch Security. Sometimes just the sound of an alarm will send burglars running, and if it doesn't, having it connected to a security company or local law enforcement will send help right away.
Home alarm systems are easy to use nowadays, and you can help your parents set up one that will notify your mobile device if anything is amiss. They can even include fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their mobile notification systems.
In the Community
In crowds and busy places, most seniors are fairly safe, although they should be wary of pickpockets and not carry large sums of cash. In the car, seniors can run into trouble. In parking lots they should always park near a door, or better yet, use the valet services that are popping up all over at shopping malls, hospitals, and clinics (always give just the valet key, not the whole set).
One of the biggest challenges to seniors is being comfortable being rude to strangers. Many are of a generation that finds it hard not to answer when a stranger calls out to them, and criminals are banking on this. Senior citizens need to be reminded that it's okay to ignore people they don't know and keep walking. If they really feel someone is in danger, they can notify the authorities once in a safe place.
The high tech world represents a new security risk for seniors. As more and more older people are learning about computers and going online, they are falling prey to phishing scammers and identity thieves. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police offers a free guidebook for seniors that includes details about many current scams.
A good rule of thumb is that no institution with whom you already have a relationship is going to ask you to email or online confirm vital statistics--they already have that information. If someone emails or rings and says they are from the bank or credit card company, a warning bell should go off in the senior's head. If they suspect they are being targeted by cyber or telephone crime, seniors should report this to their local police department.
Seniors may also need reminding that they should not share their computer passwords with anyone, and they should create passwords that are not easy to guess (no birthdays, addresses, etc.). If they have trouble remembering their passwords, they can write them down and put them in a locked spot (like a home safe) or use a telephone app that holds them all in one secure location.
Having seniors age in place can be good for their morale and their health. Making sure they are not a security risk can go a long way towards having them live on their own as long as possible.