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Senior citizens need to look out for themselves

The government and authorities have displayed welcome concern with Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil visiting homes of certain elderly people in Mumbai on October 1 on International Senior Citizens’ Day. Patil’s visit was to apprise people of measures being taken by the police for their security. While skeptics have dismissed this visit as a publicity gimmick, it may just restore a modicum of confidence in senior citizens who are becoming soft targets for crime, especially robbery, which often lead to gruesome murders in this city.

Only recently, there was a surge in crime against senior citizens with the police being forced to urge the people with more salt than pepper in their hair to become more alert to the threats they face. They are especially vulnerable — many of them live alone, and lead increasingly isolated lives in times when people do not even know their next door neighbours. With their children away from home for various reasons, couples are alone or, in many cases are living solo after a spouse has passed away.

While the authorities’ pro-active stance might be reassuring for some, senior citizens could take small steps to ensure their safety. Many of these senior citizens need to have emergency numbers at hand — police, fire, a helpline number — just a basic awareness and these numbers fed into phones nearby would be a huge help. It is no use dismissing everything with cynicism.

Senior citizens must also consider registering themselves with the police, giving them their details for emergencies. They should make it a point to register their domestic helps as well. Overall, they need to be more aware about who they admit into their homes. Between paranoia and complacency lies the golden mean. Just a little caution, and half the battle’s won.  

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