Every month Adult Protective Services staff at the County of San Diego Aging & Independence Services receive nearly 1,100 reports of suspected elder or dependent adult abuse. This is a sobering figure. Even more sobering, however, is that for every case of abuse that is reported, another four cases go unreported. Without an investigation stemming from an abuse report, an elder could remain in an unsafe living situation, lose their life savings or even suffer grave bodily harm or death.
To help elevate awareness of elder abuse and the importance of reporting suspected abuse, the California Association for Area Agencies on Aging created a statewide campaign with the theme “KNOW ABUSE. REPORT ABUSE.” Planned for the month of June to encompass World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, agencies all across the state, including the County’s Aging & Independence Services, provided the public with information on the types of elder abuse, warning signs and how to make a report.
While the general public may be familiar with some types of elder abuse such as physical abuse, mental/verbal abuse or sexual abuse, other types such as self-neglect, neglect by others or financial abuse may be less familiar. By sharing warning signs, the hope is that friends and neighbors will be on the lookout for any potentially troubling circumstances and issue a report to Adult Protective Services at 1-(800) 510-2020 if they have concerns.
Some common signs of abuse include:
June may be over, but efforts to educate the public on the importance of recognizing and reporting suspected elder and dependent adult abuse are still going strong. While some cases of suspected abuse do not end up being substantiated, Adult Protective Services uses the investigation as an opportunity to share information on services or resources that may to be helpful to an elder—and possibly even prevent future abuse or neglect.
Article submitted by Sally Jackson, Aging Program Specialist for Aging & Independence Services, Health & Human Services Agency