5 Down ‘n’ Dirty Self-defense Tips for Seniors

Your chance of being attacked with a fist, box cutter, or pointed stick is debatable.  According to this U.S. Dept of Justice report, there is an 83% chance of being the victim of a violent crime at some point during your lifetime.  If you are elderly, let’s say over age 70, the same study says that your chances of being a victim at some point in your remaining years is 8% or about 1 in 12.

Your chances of being a victim are much greater if you are poor and or homeless. Note that statistics about crime vs. homeless people aren’t reliable because (a) sadly, most people don’t give a crap about homeless people and (b) homeless people are less likely to report crimes for fear of being victimized or jailed.   Here in the good ol’ U.S.A., which was once the land of opportunity, your chances of being poor and homeless are virtually 100%.  The median net worth of those aged 65 and over is about $75,000 bucks, most of which is probably equity in a primary residence.  Assisted living costs about $5,000 per month, nursing care about $9,000.  Which means when you can’t take care of yourself anymore, you have about 9 months before you’re homeless.

Now, here is the pisser, the bitch, the kick-in-the-crotch, down-and-dirty truth that you need to face right here and right now if you are going to stay safe when you get old.

Unless you take charge of your life right now, at some point you are going to be old, sick, homeless, and at high risk.   On the street.  So destitute that they won’t even have reliable statistics about what’s going to happen to you.

In your mind you are saying, “My family won’t let that happen to me” or “I’ve got Social Security” or “there’s always Medicaid.”

Stop kidding yourself.

Do you really want to saddle your kids with your care?  Before my mother and father passed away, I had been assisting in their care for over 10 years.  It exhausted me, and all I was doing was handling finances, paying bills, grocery shopping, occasionally cooking, visiting, shuttling to dialysis and doctor’s appointments, taking scary emergency phone calls at 1:00 AM, and so on.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those who have elderly relatives in adult diapers living in their homes.

Social Security pays very little,  and Medicaid will not kick in until you have assets less than $2,000.  You will have to sell everything you own in order to have a roof over your head.  And since there is a 5-year look back period, you can’t even give stuff to your kids.  Medicaid will find out and claw it back.  And remember, when you are “in the system” and on Medicaid, you have lost all control.  If you don’t have any elderly relatives “in the system” I encourage you to go see what Medicaid facilities look like.  Seeing these places will be a great motivator.

Face it now.  There is no cavalry coming over the hill.  You are on your own.  Here are my recommendations.

  1. Take care of your body.  100% of human bodies fail catastrophically, resulting in death.  All you can do is get fit and stay that way as long as you can.  Lift weights twice per week to improve bone density and exercise aerobically at least twice per week for cardiovascular health.  Quit smoking and drinking and maintain a healthy BMI.  Get check-ups and take advantage of preventative healthcare benefits.
  2. Buy a home and get it paid for.  Interest rates aren’t going to stay low forever.  If you don’t own a home already, buy one now.  Slash your expenses (I drive a 15-year-old truck and buy my clothes at Goodwill) to free up extra income so you can make extra mortgage payments.   Get a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year.  The sooner the house is paid for the better.
  3. Save, save, save.  As much as you can.  Sock it away like crazy.  Once your house is all paid up, take the money you used to spend on a mortgage and sock it into savings (if you’re old already) or a 401K or IRA (if you’re not old yet).  People always say they can’t save because they don’t make enough money.  I call bullshit.  There’s always something you can cut out in order to make room for savings.  Eat out less, be less fashionable, etc.
  4. Plan, plan, plan.   I recently met a really knowledgeable attorney named Shawn Majette who has a fantastic website with tons of great information for people who want to protect their assets and generally take care of themselves and/or their elderly relatives.  Check it out.
  5. Look into a Long Term Care Insurance policy from a reliable company.  This might not be worth your while if you’re over 40 because the older you get the higher the premiums get, but if you’re young it may be an option.  Do the math first.  If you’re aged 30 and the premium is $175/month, you might be better off putting that $175/mo. into a 401K where you could reasonably expect that investment to accrue to the tune of $200,000 by age 65.  Your call.  If you get one, read the fine print.  Make sure that it doesn’t have some ridiculous lifetime max.  My Mom’s had a $60,000 lifetime max and a $120 daily max which seemed like a ton when she got it, but when she needed it, it was a fart in a windstorm.  Better than nothing for sure, but hardly gangbusters.  Check the exclusionary period (the delay before it kicks in), the qualifications for payout, what it will pay for, etc.

Good luck people.  Getting old sucks.

10 responses to “5 Down ‘n’ Dirty Self-defense Tips for Seniors

  1. Hi Robert, this post is so different (and detailed) from anything else I’ve seen you post before, what motivated you to do it? Phil

  2. Robert Mitchell

    Hey Phil. After my father passed away in ’08 I took over managing my mother’s finances, which I did until she passed away last week. Had she not left us, we would have been in a huge bind trying to pay for her ongoing care without losing her home and property.

    As a martial artist, I assess risk factors — and it seems to me that being poor and homeless is a *massive* risk factor in this country. As an Accounting Manager for a half-billion dollar corporation, I know my way around finances. As a mystic, I love and sympathize with human beings and their plight.

    I decided to pour what I learned along the way into a post that might help someone taking care of an elderly person in the USA. I surely hope it does.

    I guess having three perspectives on a problem close to my heart made for more detail than usual!

  3. Hi Robert,
    your post is equally relevant to what is happening in Australia and the West generally as the capitalist class, driven by their crisis that won’t go away (with no more money to throw at it) and their greed, tighten the screws.

    Australians have become incredibly more mean, self-centred and calculating since the 1960s – remember Woodstock? It’s not that greed is good, it’s that greed is the only way. I can hear a band playing ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee.’

    Just as the camps in Germany in the 30s and not the happy pics one can see taken in Germany then were the reality of Germany, so Australia’s ‘detention centres’ are Australia’s reality, not the ‘laid-back Aussie’, feel-good bullshit pumped out by the ideologues and assorted hacks.

    What is stalking the world now, led by the US capitalist class, is a truly vicious mix of capitalism, Western and white supremacism – all in decline.

    Best regards as always, Filippo del mondo

    • Robert Mitchell

      So what do you think is the way forward? Is this like a disease that must run its course? Or is there a way to break out of the spiral?

  4. Hi Robert,
    Marx took the always revolutionary dialectics and speculative philosophy of Neoplatonism and stood them on material feet.

    For Hegel, consciousness is primary – for the dialectical materialist, the objective world is.

    How the world develops will be reflected in and will drive consciousness – this is ‘the way forward.’

    More than 100 years in particular of utter treachery, brutality and exploitation by the West, by the capitalist class and the Islamic people have had enough.

    Like the Vietnamese standing first against the French and then the US – ably assisted by the Australians (who couldn’t wait to prove their servility to the Americans, demanding to be allowed in to the war), they will not be beaten.

    Think of what the US did to defeat the Vietnamese – but the US and their client Australia were driven out.

    Why Islamic ‘fundamentalism’? Because the West/the capitalist class kept destroying any political voice of the Islamic people – they had nowhere to turn but to their religious structures. This is negation at work. Nothing can stop it.

    Similarly with capitalism in the West. Marx was right, capitalism bears the seeds of its own destruction. How a capitalist, you and I feel and think about capitalism is not the fundamental point, the fundamental determinant. That lies in the dynamics of capitalism itself.

    There will come a point when political structures will arise in Western nations that will embody the new – forms of socialism (which may be very different from what Marx hoped for).

    Again, not because Marx or I wish it but because of what Hegel, following Plotinus et al. revealed of the ‘world’ and Marx applied practically.

    What do you think? Filippo

  5. “[C]apitalism bears the seeds of its own destruction…There will come a point when political structures will arise in Western nations that will embody the new – forms of socialism…” It sounds as though you rather agree with me. I increasingly view the current political structures on our planet as if they are bacteria colonies in a global petri dish. *Capitalistica occientalis* will continue to multiply until it either consumes all of the culture medium or until some other competing microorganism turns the tide. I think I may have something in common with this fellow — it’s next on my reading list:


  6. Really good article, reveling United Kingdom too, what a coincidence that I came across your article just after conversation with group of seniors about creating martial arts group for them.

  7. It meant to be relevant not reveling, sorry about that

    • Robert Mitchell

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes indeed, self-defense is about prevention first, avoidance second, de-escalation third. Fists and feet come fourth! It’s easy to focus on the fun and flashy material and forget the basics.

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