ASK THE DA: Safety for older Americans

May 10, 2013 Charles J. Hynes
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President Obama has continued the tradition started by President Kennedy of recognizing the month of May as “Older Americans Month.” The theme for Older Americans Month 2013 is “Unleash the Power of Age.” This is a month dedicated to honoring the men and women who raised us and made our great country what it is today. Throughout the year we should all acknowledge what older Americans contribute to our communities and keep in mind the following commonsense safety tips that can help ensure safety and peace of mind.

  • Public Safety — Older women experience higher levels of purse snatching, undermining overall feelings of safety.  Some women have said that they feel more confident without a bag, or choose instead to tuck purses into pockets.
    If possible, shop with a friend or family member. When out alone, avoid displaying money or expensive jewelry, and keep cash in your purse to a minimum.
    Men should keep wallets in their front pant pockets or inside coat pocket, and women should avoid purses with dangling straps. If someone does try to forcibly steal your purse or wallet, give up your property without resistance.
    Keep information at home so that you can cancel credit cards and alert your bank of the theft.  If keys are stolen, the police and my office can help arrange to have locks changed.
  • Safety at Home — Most people spend considerable time in their homes enjoying the security that their home offers. Some tips for safety in the home include installing  deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and a wide angle peephole on the front door.
    If a stranger asks to use your phone, direct him or her to the nearest public phone or make the call for the person. Strangers should never be let in without identification, and if in doubt, do not open the door.
    Doors should always be locked even if just leaving momentarily to take out the garbage or pick up the mail. House keys should only be left with a trusted neighbor or family member and not under the mat or similarly conspicuous place.
    Also, consider a safety deposit box for your precious belongings, and keep your financial arrangements private. It is always wise to be aware of who is present when you are discussing such things. I encourage all seniors to devise a buddy system with a friend or neighbor to check on each other at frequent intervals.

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