Lucy is worried. She's lived in the same neighborhood for 50 years, but things seem to be changing. Last week, her friend Rose was walking to the store when a young man ran by and pulled her purse right off her shoulder. Two weeks ago, Joe, the man upstairs, put his grocery bags on the curb while waiting for the bus, and before he knew it, someone had picked up his bags and run off. Lucy feels sad to think she might have to move. She wonders, is anywhere safe for older people anymore?
Older people and their families worry about crime. Though they are less likely to be victims of crime than young people, the number of crimes that happen to older people is hard to ignore. Older people are often targets for robbery, purse snatching, pick-pocketing, car theft, or home repair scams. During a crime, an older person is more likely to be seriously hurt than someone who is younger.
But, even though there are risks, don't let the fear of crime stop you from enjoying life. Be careful and be aware of your surroundings. Here are some things that you can do to avoid crime and stay safe.
Try to make sure that your locks, doors, and windows are strong and cannot be broken easily. A good alarm system can help.
Older people may be victims of frauds like con games and insurance, home repair, telephone, or Internet scams. Even "trusted" friends or family members have been known to steal an older person's money or property. The following tips may help:
If someone uses your name, Social Security number, or credit card without your permission, it's a crime. It's called identity theft.
The Internet can give online scammers, hackers, and identity thieves access to your computer, personal information, and finances. You can reduce the chance of a crime by following these tips:
Report any identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-438-4338.
It's hard to believe, but elder abuse can happen anywhere. It can take place at home by family or friends or in a nursing home by professional caregivers. Some people don't think of elder abuse as a crime, but it is. Abuse can take many forms such as physical harm, financial loss, sexual abuse, or neglect by someone you trust. Verbal threats or rude words are another form of elder abuse. If someone you know is being abused, or if you need help, remember:
Here are some helpful resources:
601 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20049
Administration on Aging
Washington, DC 20201
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Look for the booklet ID Theft: What's It All About
National Center on Elder Abuse
c/o Center for Community Research and Services
University of Delaware
297 Graham Hall
Newark, DE 19716
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24 hours/day, 365 days/year
National Organization for Victim Assistance
510 King Street, Suite 424
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
1-800-879-6682 (24-hour hotline/toll-free)
U.S. Council of Better Business Bureaus
4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1838
For more information on health and aging, contact:
To sign up for regular email alerts about new publications and other information from the NIA, go to www.nia.nih.gov/health.
Visit NIHSeniorHealth (www.nihseniorhealth.gov), a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click on a button to have the text read out loud or to make the type larger.
National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Publication Date: April 2012
Page Last Updated: April 12, 2012