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A Guide to Self Defense for Older Adults

By June 12, 2015Aging in Place

Growing older does not mean that one has to feel “feeble.” With stability and mobility issues common in aging, some seniors may feel like strangers pose a physical threat. This may be true as many criminals target seniors due to an appearance of helplessness. While seniors may be at risk for various crimes, there are key steps a senior can take to help prevent and defend themselves in the event of an emergency.

Avoiding Danger

Avoidance is always the first step in self-defense. This doesn’t mean the elder should avoid going into public, it simply means that the senior should not walk or travel alone in high-risk areas. Avoid streets and corners with little foot traffic and stay in well-lit areas. When necessary, seniors should ask for escorts when walking to and from a car ,and when approaching a vehicle or locked door, the senior should have their keys ready and avoid distraction. Remaining alert to any suspicious activity is key.

Creating Noise

Criminals are likely to avoid noisy victims as to not draw attention to the scene. Car horns are excellent if accessible but air horns or loud buzzers are portable options. If no “noisemaker” or personal alarm is available, the senior should shout and yell with specific words like “give me back my purse” or “help, I am being attacked.” Simply yelling “help” will not attract as much attention.

Using Pepper Spray

Small canisters of pepper spray can be purchased at most grocery stores. They’re small and many can be conveniently attached to a keychain. Seniors should read the instructions so that he or she understands how to operate the spray in the event of an emergency. Accidental exposure of the pepper spray should be avoided and and if exposed, seniors should cleanse themselves immediately with warm, soapy water. People who are allergic to chili peppers or capsaicin should not use pepper spray.

Protective Items

Items such as canes, keys, and large purses may be used for physical defense. If use is required, the senior should use as much force as possible with the largest swing they can manage. The object can be used to wane off the attacker and drive them away.

Seniors need to be prepared to avoid becoming victims. Often times, criminals see seniors as a vulnerable population. However, some self-defense preparedness will help the senior feel more confident in public and avoid isolation and help them in an emergency.

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