The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), home to McGruff the Crime Dog®, and AlertID, the family and neighborhood safety network, are working together to focus on public safety for older Americans. NCPC and AlertID are using this year’s Older Americans Month theme — Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow to spotlight the need for seniors, their family members, and community residents to be vigilant in protecting senior citizens from a wide range of crimes.
With America’s growing elderly population, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and physical or financial exploitation go undetected and untreated each year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). Resources to prevent crimes against seniors are very important to law enforcement and other NCPC constituents in the field. To this end, NCPC has created several resources to help increase senior safety and prevention efforts including publications, PSAs, toolkits, and an on-demand virtual conference accessible at www.ncpc.org.
“We hear the horror stories of seniors losing their homes, their lives’ savings, living without food, or being locked in their homes, alone, without heat,” said Ann M. Harkins, NCPC President and CEO. “Making sure older Americans are safe isn’t only a family, caregiver, or a law enforcement responsibility. It is a community responsibility.”
Elder abuse and financial exploitation crimes have devastating consequences for older Americans, having a negative impact on their health, their emotional well-being and vitality, and often their independence and ability to live alone. In addition, these crimes and their consequences can sever key social connections with family, friends, neighbors, their churches, or civic groups. The signs of physical abuse or financial exploitation can be difficult to detect because of natural aging processes, such as the ability to bruise more easily or the onset of dementia — another devastating safety problem for millions of older Americans and their loved ones.
It is estimated that 60 to70 percent of affected seniors will wander from safety each year and often do not have the ability to recall relevant contact information. AlertID provides a free national program (online and mobile app) for families to protect the more than 5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. My Family Wallet™, the sophisticated, yet easy-to-use portion of the AlertID app allows members to store photo and other information about their loved ones. It then allows members to share this information with law enforcement and other family members immediately in the event that a senior citizen goes missing, helping to raise immediate awareness of the missing and to reunite them with their families quickly.
For AlertID’s Founder, Keli Wilson, it is about the importance of safety and prevention when it comes to helping older Americans be safe. “AlertID is a powerful tool that offers families and law enforcement a solution to a difficult problem. Our goal is to help protect families and neighborhoods every day so we can achieve a healthier tomorrow.”
The free program offers crime and sex offender alerts, neighborhood discussions and much more, in addition to other important public safety alerts and prevention tips online, via email and on smartphones.
For prevention tips and resource information on senior safety from the National Crime Prevention Council, please visit http://www.ncpc.org/topics/crime-against-seniors. For information on the AlertID app and its related programs, please visit http://alertid.com. For additional safety and prevention tips developed in conjunction with NCPC to help protect the elderly, please visit http://www.alertid.com/search/crimes-against-elderly.asp.