Self-Defense Tips for Seniors and Elderly

As seniors grow older, it may become necessary for them to learn a bit about self-defense. The concept of self-defense for seniors is completely different from the concept of self-defense for younger adults. For seniors, self-defense is all about not showing fear. Most self-defense tactics taught to seniors do not focus on combat maneuvers, but instead focus on teaching seniors the ability to stay strong and to protect themselves. Through self-defense tactics, seniors can gain the strength they need to protect themselves, learn how to be more aware of their surroundings, learn how to exude a fearless presence and understand their physical and mental capabilities.

Facts on Crimes against Seniors

Each year there are numerous crimes against seniors all around the world. Most often, seniors become the victims of non-violent crimes such as larceny or purse snatching. Theft is most commonly directed at seniors because many criminals believe that seniors are vulnerable and easy targets. For this reason, seniors are at a higher risk of being a victim of vehicle theft or burglary.

Self Defense Recommendations

There are many general tips and recommendations that seniors can follow in order to defend themselves. Many of these tips are meant to prevent seniors from having to defend themselves, and are good, common-sense tips that everyone should be aware of. These tips include:

  • Do not overload your arm with grocery bags or packages. Use a luggage cart if you are at a hotel or make multiple trips to and from your car at a hotel or at your home.
  • Park your car in well-lit areas. By parking underneath a street light or a light in a parking lot, you can find your car easily at night and reduce your chances of getting mugged in a parking lot.
  • Before leaving your car at a store or on the street, observe your surroundings closely. Make note of places you could go to quickly in case someone were to approach you or something would happen.
  • Walk with a purpose; do not look at the ground while you walk. Instead, keep your head up and constantly look at your surroundings.
  • Keep a police whistle and a flashlight on your keychain and hold your keys while walking. The whistle can be used to alert others of any trouble you may be experiencing and the flashlight can come in handy at night.
  • Carry as little cash as you can. You should only ever hold essential items on you or in your purse.
  • Do not slip a purse strap around your neck. Some attackers may use the strap in order to harm you during an attack.
  • If you have a cell phone, understand how to dial emergency services quickly.
  • Visit the bank and the ATM machines during the day. At night, these locations may be dangerous and may be places where criminals lurk in order to steal money.
  • Never open your house or apartment door to a stranger. After looking through a window or a keyhole, if you do not know the person; do not answer the door. If necessary, speak to the person though a door or window. Purse and wallet snatchers expect to grab your purses and wallets and quickly run away. In order to deceive them and protect your valuables follow these easy tricks:

Practice the Art of Deception

  • If you must carry a purse or a wallet with you, then buy a travel wallet. These wallets can be worn under your clothes either around your neck or attached to your waistband. They are virtually impossible to grab and run, and if criminals do not believe you are carrying a purse or a wallet, then they will not bother you.
  • Men may choose to carry a dummy wallet in their pockets along with placing their money elsewhere. This way, if an assailant grabs their wallet, then they are not getting any money or personal information.
  • Women who carry purses can slip their jacket over their purse so that their handbag is covered by their jacket. This will allow them to be safer and less vulnerable to purse snatchers.
  • Carry keys in your pocket or in your hands, instead of in your purse. This way, if someone would take your purse, then you would still have your car keys and house keys.
  • The following tips are for situations in which seniors may be threatened with physical force:
  • Dodge the assailant. If someone starts to try to hit you, then move from side to side in order to avoid the blow. If you are still standing upright, then run as fast as you can from side to side to get away from the assailant. Run to a safe place such as a store or a well-lit area.
  • Do not let anyone back you into a wall or against a large object. If this happens, they will get the upper hand, and it may become difficult to escape.
  • If someone grabs you from behind, then try not to struggle. Instead, lean against the attacker and throw your head back as hard as you can. This will throw your attacker off-balance and cause them to stumble. When they stumble and loosen their arms around you, run away.


Seniors can easily learn to defend themselves with just a little bit of help. Through self-defense classes and these easy tips, your elderly loved ones can be prepared and can gain the knowledge and power they need to avoid crimes. Many seniors may feel the need to carry some form of weapon for self-defense. For these seniors, it is absolutely essential that they understand how and when to use the weapon. It generally is not recommended that people carry guns, knives or taser guns, and in some places it may be illegal. However, if a senior is scared, then they can use items such as keys, umbrellas, canes and pens to inflict harm on an attacker. These items may be readily available to them at all times, and do not pose a danger to anyone else around them or to themselves.

Additionally, the better in shape you are, the better chance you have at getting away from any assailant. It is important for seniors to keep up with a daily or weekly exercise regimen that incorporates strength training. This will allow seniors to stay fit and healthy, and to have a better chance of breaking free from an assailant.

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