An elderly couple who recently returned from the United States after visiting their daughter were allegedly murdered by their driver-cum-domestic aide with an accomplice and buried the bodies in their farmhouse. Police recovered jewellery and nine kg gold looted from them. It was a pre-planned murder. The culprits believed that the couple had money stashed at their house from a recent real estate transaction.
This case indicates the vulnerability of the elderly, especially those living alone with their children abroad or at distant places within the country. The same vulnerability exists for those who visit home from foreign or distant lands.
Here are some tips, tried and tested by our family. It is mostly for the elderly travelling from Canada/ USA. You may accept some, modify some or may reject all.
- Visits back home should be minimised. Return home only if it is unavoidable.
- Travel light. – only one hand carry bag. It will save you a lot of time checking in/ out at the airport and will reduce the physical effort in lugging the baggage around. In your handbag, keep a pair or two of your dress – rest you can buy after reaching home.
- Always carry adequate medications – to last you a month longer than your stay.
- Never carry any gift for any of your relatives or friends. Whatever you give, no one is satisfied. I ask them for items not available back home and only available in this part of the world and that is nix.
- Many have ancestral property back home and may prove to be a millstone around the neck. Money spent for maintenance of a home in the property – with relatives and contractors ready to fleece the foreigner – it will be economical to stay at any of the 5-Star resort/ hotel.
- Try and dispose off all property back home – Your children are least likely to claim it or even visit it.
- Dispose off all gold and jewellery – the money realised will be of some use to you or your children.
- Never give access to your home to anyone. He may have been serving you for ages.
- Never brag or show-off or even discuss your economic status or lifestyle with anyone – even the closest relatives. Walls too have ears.
- Never give out your travel plans – especially your absence from home. Keep your travel plans Top-Secret.
- Always travel by public transport – else call for an auto/ taxi a few minutes before you set out. Never hire the same driver (even if you may pay more) and never set a travel pattern. Your times of walks, visit to a place of worship, etc must be staggered.
- Avoid travelling at night. In case you got to, then use public transport.
- Never flash your money. There are many prying eyes around you.
- Never over-tip the food-delivery person or at restaurants/ bars/ hotels. Do not follow the North American standard of 20% of the billed amount. No one is going to ask you “Was there anything wrong with the service?”
- Avoid designer wear or flashy clothes – a clear give-away.
- Check your diet. Eat sensibly and be careful about the water you drink. Avoid milk and milk products as much as possible. Drink boiled water and hot beverages. Black coffee/ tea is ideal with least chance of contamination.
- Report arrival to local police even if it is not mandated. You must also verify the personal particulars with the personal documents of your domestic help, driver, etc whom you employ. In many murder cases of elderly, the culprit has been either the driver or the domestic help.
- Install a Burglar Alarm and CCTV Cameras. Use Infra-Red Cameras with night vision. Keep the house illuminated – both from inside and outside.
Physiologic changes of ageing, chronic illness, increased use of medications, and sensory or cognitive changes place the ageing population at increased risk for injury. On top of these, physical security must also be looked into.