Keeping Seniors Safe

March 12, 2007--Posted at 5:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--Violent crimes against the elderly, the statistics are alarming. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates, between 1993 and 2002, more than 30 million Americans 65 and older were victims of crime.

As we get older, one of the last things we should have to worry about is being attacked. But it is in fact a reality, as illustrated in the weekend mugging of a 101 year-old woman in New York City.

At the St. Bernards Senior Life Center in Jonesboro, cards were on the agenda Monday, but the topic of conversation was the mugging of a 101 year-old woman in New York City.

"Kind of uneasy, but I was raised in the city, so O am kind of wise to some things, but not all things," said Sonya Adams.

89 year-old Sonya Adams has never been assaulted, but she says she has had several people attempt to fraud her over the telephone to get her social security number, bank codes or personal information.

"They just go on and on sometimes. I will let them spill the whole thing, then I tell them I am not interested, but sometimes they get a little obnoxious and just hang up," said Adams.

According to the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging, another popular scheme to con seniors involves personal house visits. Jeanette Dotson says it's important to make sure the person at the door is who they say they are.

"Make sure that the person who is knocking on your door has photo identification, and that the photo looks like the person talking to you at the door," says East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging Case Management Supervisor Jeanette Dotson.

The East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging encourages anyone who is 60 or older to have a personal emergency response system meaning emergency services can be at your doorsteps in less than two minutes with a simple click of a remote.

"It gives an elderly person piece of mind and security, as well as their family members," said Dotson.

While the device will help to keep you safe at home, it is also important to stay aware when you leave your home. The Agency on Aging recommends traveling in groups, updating someone you know of your plans each day, and try not to become too predictable in your weekly routine.

"My husband always used to say go a different direction every once in a while," said Adams.

It is also recommended that women not carry a purse, because it is a sign that you are carrying valuables.

The National Institute on Aging also offers other tips for seniors to stay safe.

-At home make sure your locks, doors, and windows are strong and cannot be broken.

-Engrave your valuable property with an identification number like your driver's license.

-Make a list of expensive belongings; if possible take pictures of these items.

-Don't keep large amounts of money in your house.

-Have your monthly pension or Social Security checks sent right to the bank for direct deposit.

-Don't keep your check book and credit card together. A thief who steals both could use the card to forge your signature on checks.