That was the advice from the Council of the Ageing (COTA) director Bob Kucera to attendees at a recent seniors’ forum in the Queensland town of Melville.
His top tips for the elderly to save themselves from becoming another crime statistic?
- Leave your wallets, keys and other valuables in an easily locatable place to reduce the risk of burglaries turning violent.
- Get to know your neighbours and set up a “telephone tree” so that everyone in the suburb is quickly alerted and turns on their outside lights whenever there is an incident.
- And the kicker – catch public transport and do your weekly shopping in a group if possible, as well as to use the ATMs inside shopping centres rather than out on the street.
All helpful advice – but do we really want to be setting up our elderly to be expect the worst?
Mr Kucera himself admitted that statistically seniors were far less likely to fall victim to crime than other segments of the population.
Older people don’t lose their street-smarts
It’s a fact backed up by a recent UK study that found older peoples’ gut instinct about whether a stranger posed a threat was the same as young adults.
The University of Portsmouth study looked at threat perception in two groups – one aged 59-91 and the other aged 20-28. It found 95 per cent of participants were able to accurately judge the aggression and level of intimidation of a range of people.
The reason? While children are often poor at judging threats, once we develop these skills around 18 to 20, they don’t diminish with age – in short, you’re as street-savvy at 80 as you are at 18.
Most of us would say we’re frightened of walking at night for example, but some people may see risk where there is none.
The lesson? Trust your gut – and just avoid those dark alleyways.