Personal Self-Defense Tips for Seniors


By Steve Kardian

Seniors may be statistically less likely to be victims of a violent crime than younger age groups, but the fallout of a violent crime against a senior can be much more devastating.

Reaction times are reduced as we age, and seniors may not have optimal health, so a physical attack can take longer to recover from, cause more injuries, and be more life-threatening. Conditions such as diminished vision and hearing or dementia can also make seniors more vulnerable to crime.

A few ways seniors and their friends, families, and caregivers can enhance personal safety include:

Fortify Residences

  • Seniors who are still living independently in a single-family home should make sure that bushes and trees are trimmed back from the home. This will help eliminate hiding places for criminals.
  • Bright landscape lighting can also help to deter burglars, and motion-sensing lighting should be installed in dark corners of the yard or near access points.
  • Never allow anyone into your home, even if they have a work uniform. Check ID, and if unsure, call the company, especially if you didn’t schedule any service.

Enhance Security

  • Security systems and personal emergency-response devices can help seniors reach help if a break-in occurs or if there is a medical emergency.
  • Some devices have features that will also notify family or caregivers if something is wrong, so if for some reason the alarm company does not respond to a call, loved ones or caregivers can follow up to ensure everything is OK.

Enroll in a Class

  • Self-defense classes don’t have to be all about throwing a punch or mastering a kick.
  • Seniors can benefit from self-defense classes that help to educate about scams or how to use body language and confident verbal communication to scare off a potential attacker.
  • Classes can also help teach about mitigating risk factors and how to be more aware of surroundings.

Better Safe than Sorry

  • If you return home and things don’t look right, don’t just chalk it up to forgetfulness that you left items out or out of place.
  • Go to a neighbor’s house, or get back in your car and call a family member or the police to come check the house with you. There is no reason to stumble upon a burglar alone.
  • And, if there have been break-ins in your area, take extra precautions. Purchase something simple, such as a whistle or an air horn, which you can sound if someone breaks in while you are home and you need help.

Invest in Easy-to-Use Protection

  • Finally, don’t be afraid to protect yourself if threatened. There are many self-defense devices available at a range of costs. An example is the Defense Alert Device (D.A.D.), which can be worn on the hand when walking, running errands, or checking who is at the front door.

The device combines a 150 lumen LED multi-mode flashlight, emergency-alert system, and a non-lethal, military-strength defense spray. A press of a button will send an alert to friends and family anywhere in the world via the app, text and email, and to Good Samaritans within 1 mile of your location who also have the app. It also sends to police who have the app. An 18-year-old American girl recently used it to incapacitate a violent attacker, while traveling in Italy. The danger alert was received in real time by her mother 6,000 miles away.

Steve Kardian is the founder of Jane Jitsu and an expert on women’s safety and crime prevention. Before devoting his work full-time to Jane Jitsu, Kardian served as a detective and then a sergeant with the Mount Pleasant Police Department in New York. Kardian’s first book, The New Superpower for Women, is available on Amazon.