Elder Abuse on the Rise in Sacramento CountyJun 17, 2021 12:00AM ● By By Kathleen Newton, Northwest Media Consultants
To spot financial abuse, look for sudden changes in the older person's financial situation, such as: Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney; Financial activity the person couldn't have done herself; Bills not being paid; Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases. MPG file photo
SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) – In the past year, Sacramento County officials received more than 18,000 reports of elder abuse, up 81% compared to just five years earlier.
According to Irene Chu, program planner for Sacramento County Adult Protective Services, elder self-neglect, financial abuse, psychological abuse and neglect by others make up the bulk of APS cases.
The 2020-21 abuse reports generated nearly 5,500 formal investigations. Of these, 41% involved self-neglect, followed by financial abuse, at 22%.
Chu said financial abuse can include internet or telephone scams involving identity theft, investment swindles, computer virus schemes and charity or family-member-in-need scams. Even worse may be swindles and theft by caregivers, which may leave the victims destitute.
Self-neglect cases can range from elderly people failing to take their medication to not being able to maintain healthful conditions in their homes or suffering from physical or mental disabilities that make it difficult for them to care for themselves. Homeless individuals are particularly vulnerable to self-neglect and abuse by others, she said.
Chu stressed that in nearly all cases of elder abuse and neglect, isolation is the key risk factor.
“It’s not just for those people living by themselves. Even if an elder is living with family members or friends, he or she can be isolated. In some extreme situations, caregivers may take away their Social Security checks, block their contact with outsiders or keep them confined to the house because they don’t want people to know what they are doing.”
Chu said it is critical that people maintain constant contact with their elderly loved ones. “Keep calling them,” she said. “Make sure when you talk to your loved ones that you don’t sense any hesitation when they are talking to you. Without communication, you won’t be able to see the signs of possible abuse.”
She urged people to learn and watch for the signs of elder abuse in their loved ones. She noted that APS social workers can link clients to services to help them live safely in their own homes.
If you have questions or suspect a problem, contact Sacramento County Adult Protective Services at (916) 874-9377.
To learn more about how to prevent elder abuse, visit the Sacramento County Adult Protective Services website at https://dcfas.saccounty.net/SAS/Pages/Adult-Protective-Services/SP-Adult-Protective-Services.aspx. or go to https://elderabuseawareness.c4a.info/.
Watch for these signs of elder abuse: Lack of basic amenities; Cluttered, filthy living environment; Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior; Harassment, coercion, intimidation, humiliation; and caregiver isolation of elder.
To spot financial abuse, look for sudden changes in the older person’s financial situation, such as: Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney; Financial activity the person couldn’t have done herself; Bills not being paid; Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases.
How to report suspected cases of elder abuse
If you believe an elderly person is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, Sacramento County Adult Protective Services (APS) has a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuse of older adults and disabled adults who may be physically or financially abused, neglected or exploited. Call (916) 874-9377.
To report suspected abuse of an elder in a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or assisted living facility, contact California’s CRISISline at (800) 231-4024. During business hours call the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program of Agency on Aging Area 4 at (916) 376-8910.