By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Ask Dr. Marion

QUESTION: My parents still like to travel, but I'm more concerned for their safety now that they are both frailer and less aware of their environment. Do you have a few suggestions how I can help them? Lillian in New York, 52

ANSWER: Many elderly are staying more active later in life, and that's great, but it has also resulted in a sharp increase in elder-related crimes. Whether your elder is in the home or traveling far away, he or she can become a target. I don't mean to scare anyone with this frank talk, but you need to know how your elder can avoid most problems. Below are some safety tips to consider when your elder ventures outside of the home.

  1. Wear shoes that are comfortable and in good repair
  2. Carry a purse or wallet with a firm grip and keep it close to the body
  3. When shopping, use a cart, since it can help with balance
  4. Don't attempt to carry too many goods home ? you can often have packages delivered as well
  5. Don't leave notes on the exterior of the door when going out
  6. Leave the light on in the home, as well as the TV or radio
  7. Put a rubber band around your wallet and put your wallet in an inside pocket if possible
  8. Have keys in hand when you arrive home or when approaching your car
  9. If you must ask for directions, yell them out from a distance
  10. Don't wear headphones ? they are distracting and cut you off from your environment
  11. Take medication along if you'll be gone for an extended period of time
  12. Carry a whistle and blow it, or yell "Police!" or "Fire!" to get attention if needed
  13. While driving, put any purse on the passenger side floor, out of sight, or in the back
  14. Keep the windows up when driving
  15. Don't open the trunk of the car with others around
  16. When possible, travel well-lit streets and highways, or travel during daylight hours
  17. Let someone know where you're going and the route you plan to take
  18. Keep emergency items in the car such as a hat, suntan lotion, a shovel, bottled water, a battery charger, a spare tire, a flashlight, an umbrella, and maps
  19. Have a cell phone (with charger) in case of an emergency
  20. While banking, be aware of who is around the automated teller machine, and use direct deposit when possible
  21. Keep money out of sight and in a safe place
  22. Never leave valuables unattended
  23. Count money during all transactions

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.