Seniors & Aging: Top 10 tips on personal safety

I found this article from Rhonda Latreille, Founder & CEO of Age-Friendly Business, very informative.  Hope you enjoy. 

The headlines were alarming:  ’95 year old purse snatching victim suffers minor injuries to her arm.’  This recently happened just up the street from our home.  The community was stunned — how could this happen here?    A valued neighbour as well as our sense safety and civility had been violated.

The fear of crime is a big concern for seniors.  While seniors are in the age group least likely to experience crime, when they are victimized, the results can be even more devastating.  Seniors have less time to recover from financial loss, and may take more time to heal from physical assaults.  Furthermore, the fear of crime can be isolating, leading to less community engagement and a diminished sense of quality of life.

In previous articles, we provided travel safety and fraud prevention tips.  Today, we’ll offer some ideas about how you can enhance your personal safety — regardless of your age.

Top 10 Personal Safety Tips

  1. Be aware of your surroundings — notice who is entering the area around you, and trust your instincts if you feel something is not right.
  2. Choose purses and bags with cross-body straps, and keep your money and valuables in a zippered pouch next to your body where you have control.
  3. Keep change in your pockets, so that you can pay parking meters, transit, and drop money into charity kettles etc.  without having to open your wallet in public.
  4. Choose well lit streets with traffic, and avoid dark or isolated entrances and alleyways.
  5. If you think someone is paying too much attention to you, pop into a store front or cross the street.
  6. Plan your route ahead of time, and walk with confidence and purpose.
  7. If using an ATM machine and you feel uncomfortable, either leave or invite the person to go ahead of you so they can leave before you attempt your transaction.
  8. Carry a personal alarm or whistle where you can easily get at it.
  9. If a purse or bag is stolen, the perpetrator could have access to your home address — so carry your keys and personal id in your pocket.
  10. Abandon your need to be polite.  If someone is too close for comfort, tell them firmly to move away.

Although seniors are generally at lower risk for falling victim to crimes, they unfortunately are the most likely age group to experience purse snatching.  Our story at the beginning of this article had a good ending.  Good Samaritans who witnessed the purse snatching chased after the perpetrator, wrestled him to the ground and held him until the police arrived.  Although the police do not recommend ever putting yourself in danger to pursue an offender, they were grateful for the support.  Most importantly, our neighbour is healing.

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA). He is the founder and president of Lianas, a company specializing in retirement residence search and senior transition support, and co-host of the Life Unrehearsed radio show on CJAD 800 every Sunday at 4 p.m. Matt also writes a regular blog at and can be reached at

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