Sunday, January 15, 2006

security, advice on (safety)

Security and safety are important in providing a pleasant environment. Because recovery from injuries is more difficult in later life and weakened muscles and poor vision increase the danger, older people need to take greater precautions than they did in youth. Rugs in homes should have rubber undercoats to keep them from sliding. Chairs should be easy to get into and out of. Steps and staircases should have sturdy railings. A rail clamped to the bathtub or bed may also be useful. Avoiding the possibility of criminal victimization is also wise. If the person's hearing is decreased, it may be useful to install a burglar alarm that will frighten an intruder and wake the person instantly. A dog may also provide protection. Doors should be locked, even during the day, with a good deadbolt lock. Older people should not open their door to strangers even if they have a chain on the door. They should keep their phone in an easily accessible area and have important numbers, such as fire, police, ambulance, and the nearest neighbor, handy.
Older individuals should know and care about their neighbors because keeping an eye out for neighbors and their property can be a good deterrent to crime-a proposition that has contributed to the growth of neighborhood watch programs nationally.
Older people should avoid giving information to strangers over the phone, on the street, or at home. Fraud, through a large variety of con games and other schemes, is used against the elderly frequently. The consequences may be only the loss of a small amount of pocket change, but it can result in the loss of life savings. A basic piece of advice includes avoiding sidewalk, door-to-door, and telephone solicitations.
Older people should not keep large sums of money or valuables in their homes-the bank is a safer place. Having Social Security checks sent directly to a bank and paying bills by check or direct withdrawal can be useful. It is common knowledge, especially in the criminal community, that Social Security and other pension checks arrive during the first days of each month, and crime against the elderly escalates during this time. If a person does not use a direct deposit method, he or she may want to consider a locked mailbox, since nearly 20,000 Social Security checks are stolen each year, usually from mailboxes. The older person should keep any valuables such as stocks, bonds, or jewelry in a safe deposit box or a locked area in the house.
When older individuals leave their homes, it is a good idea to leave the television, radio, or a light on. If they are going to be gone for a day or more they should put their lights and radio on an automatic timer that will allow the lights to go on and off, inform their friends and neighbors about their absence, and stop paper and mail deliveries until they return.
When older people are on the streets, they should pay attention to their surroundings, walking with confidence and purpose. They should keep to lighted streets, preferably go out with companions, and avoid doorways and alleys where an attacker could be lurking. To avoid purse snatching, women should carry shoulder bags, which can also be secured under their arm, with the opening next to their body. Carrying large amounts of money should be avoided, and men should place their wallets in the front pocket of their trousers instead of the hip pocket. Keys should be carried separately from purse or briefcase. It is safer not to struggle if one is physically attacked. The attacker will generally take the purse or wallet and run if there is no resistance, thus leaving the victim uninjured. It is a good idea for older people to carry a whistle to use as an alarm if they are in trouble. When using public transportation, it is best to ride as closely as possible to the driver.
In recent years religious cults have begun to target the elderly. While some cults are authentic and well-meaning, many are not. These indulge in deception, demand unquestioning loyalty to their leader, and require that material possessions be turned over to the cult. Cults hold out the promise of a caring community, which may seem attractive to older people and cause them to join. As long as the older individual works and can contribute to the cult, they remain acceptable; but when they become too old or incapacitated they may be expelled without any financial resources.
Deedy, J. Your Aging Parents. Chicago: The Thomas More Press, 1984.

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