ADDRESSING HOME SECURITY CONCERNS FOR ELDERLY RELATIVES PT.2
ADDRESSING HOME SECURITY CONCERNS FOR ELDERLY RELATIVES PT.2
Part One of this article addressed physical measures elderly relatives might take in order to thwart a home intrusion or invasion. Dividing home protection up into three concentric rings was suggested, with those rings being the outer ring (perimeter of the property up to the outside of the physical residence), middle ring (outside of the physical residence including doors, windows, and attached garage), and inner ring (inside the residence itself) will allow us to focus on each zone and contemplate actions that would deter potential perpetrators and make it more difficult for them to gain entry, and markedly more dangerous for them if they actually do. Part Two picks up where Part One left off and focuses on educating elderly relatives as to actions they might take in order to decrease the chance that someone follows them home, selecting proper defensive tools, and using tactics that might save their lives if executed properly.
Stay dialed in when you are outside of your home. Do not loiter in parking lots, and when going to and from your car leave the cell phone alone. Watch for others paying attention to you. If you think someone is following you in their car, do not go directly home. Either call 911 or drive to the entrance of a fire department, hospital emergency room, or police department. If no one is present upon arrival, stay in the car with the doors locked and lay on the horn until it captures someone’s attention.
Older individuals need to know that when the unimaginable happens not doing anything will almost always be the worst choice. Immediate movement is almost the best thing to do unless there is some reason to pause just long enough to figure out where the threat is coming from. Obviously, if the threat is coming from the designated safe room then they should not go there. A small yappy dog that starts barking or the sound of the security system alarm going off may tell them that a door or window is being breached. A less desirable way is the sound of a door being forced open or window breaking. Having strategically placed lamps or lights operating on timers that come on at dark and turn off in the morning not only discourage unlawful entry but make it easier for elderly relatives to see and identify persons who are not supposed to be there. Prescription eyeglasses need to be worn or at least kept in reach, especially at bedtime.
Elderly relatives need to call 911 as soon as possible if an intruder is trying or threatening to enter after they are located in the safe room, the door is locked, and they are positioned properly so that they can defend ourselves. Obviously, a cell carried on their person is ideal, but life alert and similar medical alert systems can be triggered if in a pinch. I think it is a good idea to have pre-programmed numbers for emergency contact persons. 911 should be the default contact number for emergencies but recognize that elderly persons who live in remote areas may need to rely upon nearby friends and family also. It may be a good idea to have the address of the home or apartment printed on a card that is displayed in several places so that the elderly person can readily access it. Under stress, it may be all too easy to forget what it is. It is important that the address of the house be displayed prominently at the curb and on the house.
I recommend defensive firearms for elderly persons who have the mental clarity, strength, and emotional control to safely operate and use one under what will likely be highly stressful circumstances. It is critical that they have a solid understanding of the four rules of firearm safety, along with the ability to handle a firearm safely. Much of that is going to come from frequent practice sessions. Once a month sessions at the range should be the desired goal. Elderly persons (or anybody) should at least shoot well enough to qualify for a license to carry permit in their state or a state like Texas. If they are unable to pass the qualification it may be necessary to train until they can get competent enough to do so.
Elderly persons need a gun that they can readily manage. That might mean a semi-automatic pistol in which they can easily chamber a round by racking the slide, or a semi-automatic pistol or revolver with a manageable trigger pull that does not have excessive recoil. Full-size or compact semi-automatic pistols and medium-frame revolvers are typically going to be better choices. The smaller handguns are harder to shoot largely because the controls and sights are smaller and the recoil is heavier due to the lighter weight. This especially true for small .38 Special and .357 magnum revolvers. The Smith and Wesson Shield EZ semi-automatic pistols in .380 and 9mm calibers were expressly designed for persons with below average grip strength.
A .22 Long Rifle carbine like the Ruger 10/22 might be all that some elderly persons can handle. Home intruders typically have an aversion to being shot with anything, and in the right hands a semi-automatic rifle in .22 Long Rifle caliber can be surprisingly effective.
In response to a threatened home intrusion or invasion, I recommend moving to the safe room as identified in Part One of this article, locking and securing the door, retrieving the firearm, and moving to a corner on the same side of the room and prepare to shoot if necessary. The reason for moving to this corner is that the intruder must partially enter the room in order to see the homeowner, and in most instances the homeowner will see the intruder first. Elderly persons need to fully understand that the other party must have the opportunity, ability, and intent to maim or kill before they can use lawful deadly force to defend themselves.
Some elderly persons are just not capable of responsibly owning and using a firearm. There are multiple age-related reasons for this, but a firearm in their hands can be dangerous to both them and others. There are other reasons that possession of a firearm is not an option, such as local laws, fear of firearms, or an unwillingness on the part of the elderly person to shoot another person in self-defense. A properly staged cannister of pepper spray can sometimes go a long ways toward fending off a home intruder. Once pepper spray is sprayed, elderly people should be advised to stay where they are until law enforcement arrives, especially if spray is used (my recommendation) as opposed to a stream or gel.
I recommend against holding an intruder at gunpoint for elderly persons. It is preferrable in my opinion to tell them to leave and then wait for law enforcement to arrive. I captured a burglar at gunpoint and held him for the police, and during the eight-minute response time the burglar became increasingly emboldened. Elderly persons need to be advised that as soon as it is safe to lay their firearm down and keep their hands conspicuously visible so as to make it known to the responding officers that they are not a danger to them.
In summary, there is no reason that being elderly means the same thing as being defenseless. John Steinbeck said that the final weapon was the brain, and that all else is supplemental. Someone else also said that two heads are better than one, and this is where younger relatives and friends can play a big part.
Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.