SUPERINTENDENT of Police Stephanie Lindsay has urged the elderly to be “extremely careful” as burglars are targeting senior citizens.Speaking at Monday’s Annual General Meeting of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) held at the Phoenix Central Complex in St Andrew, the head of the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) expressed deep concern about increasing attacks on Jamaica’s elderly.
The superintendent also warned that there were people posing as representatives of utility companies, so it was important to check their ID cards.
She noted too that the problem of lonely seniors was compounded because many were afraid to venture out, depriving them of the social interaction that is considered important for their well-being.
According to Lindsay, identity theft is a growing problem, so she urged seniors to ensure that records of financial transactions are secured as the information on receipts can be used to commit fraud. She reminded members of CCRP that they may receive calls asking for banking and credit card information, and that no bank would be requesting this on the phone.
“No need to be polite — say ‘no’,” she urged. “In this case, to be rude is to be shrewd!”
She reminded the CCRP members to check their bank statements carefully and immediately report any strange activity, recommending that this be done in writing to have a record of these queries. The superintendent said any suspicion of fraud should be reported to the police.
Lindsay also said it was important to keep a close check on “incapacitated elderly”, as there have been incidents of abusive caregivers. She said that some people may be reluctant to speak out so friends and relatives should be very observant, checking for injuries and bedsores.
In the matter of motor vehicle accidents, the head of CCU recommended that CCRP members take a photo of the vehicle, ensuring that the car registration number is clear. They may give their name, but not their address; instead they could give the person the address of their insurance company and say they will meet them at the police station.
When out and about, she recommended that seniors: Go out with friends and family, not alone; walk purposely; walk down the middle of the sidewalk; keep purses close to the body and wallets in front pants pocket or jacket pocket; carry only cash, credit cards and ID that will be needed.
She advised, too, that if there is a hold-up, members should throw their wallet or handbag a distance away and run, screaming in the opposite direction. Under no circumstances should they resist giving up their valuables.
She suggested that seniors should: Use sturdy metal or solid wood doors and install deadbolt locks; light up entry doors and use motion detectors or floodlights; trim shrubbery around doors and windows and make sure their address is displayed for emergency purposes; give an extra key to a trusted neighbour.
She said that sometimes police have difficulty responding to calls because of lack of street signs and asked that citizens ensure that these are in place.
CCRP Board Director Vilma McDonald thanked Superintendent Lindsay for her timely and practical advice, while Executive Chairman Jean Lowrie-Chin noted that the organisation was deeply concerned about the issue of elder abuse, and that CCRP would be advocating for the passing of laws similar to those in the Child Care and Protection Act to ensure the well-being of Jamaica’s elderly.
CCRP’s membership has reportedly grown to 1,940, with 91 discount partners, since its inception in 2010. The special Major Medical Health Insurance plan offered by Sagicor has reportedly saved members millions in health costs.