Awareness and being prepared are keys to staying safe, especially for seniors

Michele Ryneal

Public relations manager at The Village Retirement Community

Special to Valley News

Have you ever been approached walking from your car to a store entrance by a person asking for change or a few dollars? This occurrence happens more and more as the economics of an area decline. Although seniors are less likely to be the victim of a violent assault and data from the National Crime Prevention Council indicates that the incidents of personal violence has dropped to its lowest level in almost three decades, it’s important to be prepared. But, these lower rates of crime are evidence that if people take common-sense precautions and stay aware of their surroundings they are less likely to be a victim.

In his book “Self-defense for Seniors,” Ken Boire focuses on providing senior citizen protection strategies to guard against ever growing violent acts against the most vulnerable population. Boire said in his book that “Self-defense classes for senior citizens are rare in most communities. So, it is important that the older population have access to tools to give them protection from everyday potential dangers. Basic senior citizen self-defense techniques can help minimize the damage from attempts of violence against seniors.”

Howard Horton, director of security at The Village Retirement Community for the past 14 years, conducts monthly self-defense classes to The Village residents. Trained while serving as a military police officer in the Marine Corps, Horton has used his knowledge and expertise to formulate a workshop for the residents.

“What happens on the street in real life is what I prepare my students for if they find themselves in a harmful situation,” Horton said.

Horton instructs his students on the technique known as ‘Cane-Fu,’ how to use what is at their disposal, like a cane, to defend themselves. In addition to teaching defense techniques with a cane, stick fighting moves and the ability to deflect a knife or gun are also taught. The residents find that knowing how to defend themselves, if needed, gives them a feeling of empowerment. Learning to be aware of their surroundings, displaying the right attitude to deter criminals and having a clear grasp of their own capabilities is invaluable.

Here are some easy tips to remember.

  • Carry your purse very close to you, and don’t dangle it from your arm.
  • Never leave your purse in a shopping cart unattended.
  • Don’t carry any more cash than is necessary. Many grocery stores now accept checks and automatic teller cards instead of cash.
  • Don’t display large sums of cash in public.

The best defense is to learn how not to put yourself in a situation where you’d have to defend yourself, but to be prepared for an emergency if necessary. Like Teddy Roosevelt’s old adage said, “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.” You’ll never look at a senior with a cane in the same way now.

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