Fear of the dark isn’t unique to kids. Recent research shows that nearly half of older adults don’t want to leave their homes at night. The reason: Concern they could be robbed, assaulted or worse. In fact, two-thirds of seniors are convinced that they someday will become crime victims.
“Fear of crime contributes to loneliness and isolation among older people,” says Jill Potter, RN, ACSM-CEP, AACVPR, CRP, Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse, Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “That isn’t good for our bodies or our brains. It’s important for people to be physically active and socially engaged as they age.”
A sixth-degree black belt in two different martial arts styles, Potter understands that knowing self-defense techniques gives people the confidence they need to get out and enjoy life. She teaches “Self-Defense for Seniors” through YRMC’s Preventive Medicine and Wellness. While in-person classes are on break, you can sample Potter’s self-defense techniques during this Healthy Conversations video.
Awareness and Prevention
Your best defense against crime, as Potter emphasizes, is awareness, awareness, awareness. Here are tips from Potter on how to put awareness into action in a variety of situations:
- Walking – Whether you’re out for exercise or meeting friends for dinner, walk with confidence and scan the environment as you move (this means not talking on your phone or texting).
- Parking – When you arrive at your destination, make a mental note or take a photo of where you parked. If you arrive in the late afternoon or evening, park in an area that will be well lit when you return.
- Returning to your vehicle – Prepare before you head to your car: Do I have my keys ready so I don’t have to dig through my purse or pockets? Is my dominant arm free? Do I feel comfortable?
“That gut check is really important,” Potter says. “Trust your instincts. If something feels off, go back to the store or restaurant and ask if an employee can walk with to your car. Most businesses will be glad to do this.”
Responding to a Threat
If you are threatened, rule number one, according to Potter, is not to panic. That’s a tall order. However, Potter steps through how most people – no matter their strength or age – can manage dicey situations.
With the help of fifth-degree black belt, Dave Hagen – a fellow member of Prescott Family Karate – Potter demonstrates two types of techniques during this Healthy Conversations presentation. They are:
- Friendly – For a situation that is uncomfortable but not extremely threatening.
- Non-friendly – For a truly threatening situation.
“Everyone deserves to feel secure,” emphasizes Potter. “Sharing strategies that increase confidence and safety are the goals of this Healthy Conversations presentation and the ‘Self-Defense for Seniors’ class.”