Q&A: El Dorado adds investigator to handle rising elder abuse cases
Jan 07, 2013 (The Sacramento Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Nationally, the statistics are alarming: According to the National Institute of Justice, as many as one in 10 older adults is abused, although only a small fraction of victims ever reports that abuse to authorities.
Most of the abuse occurs in the person's own home. Warning signs can hint at a wide range of problems. Caregivers can allow an older person to languish with bed sores, poor hygiene, inadequate nutrition and unpaid bills. Or family members can coerce their elderly loved one into transferring money or property.
Concerned that its cases of elder abuse are on the rise -- up by 9 percent in the past year -- the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office recently added an investigator specifically assigned to look into cases of physical and financial abuse among the county's 28,000 residents age 65 and older.
Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Tim Becker discussed the issue.
Is there a typical elder abuse case that your office sees repeatedly
It can be everything from physical abuse and domestic violence to stealing older people's Social Security checks to extorting money in Internet or phone scams, like when someone calls claiming to be their grandchild.
Last month, an elderly person here in the county mailed $10,000 in $100 bills to someone he didn't know because he believed his grandson was locked up in a Mexican prison and needed his help.
Does the Sheriff's Office know why elder abuse cases are on the rise in the county
We don't really know why. It may be because the agency is classifying elder abuse better now. We're collecting the data better. But we do seem to see more of it now, and it just wrenches your heart.
Why do so few elderly victims complain about the abuse themselves
We usually get calls from their neighbors or their relatives. Sometimes, the situation isn't cut-and-dried. It may not seem too clear to the older person.
You'll see elderly people living by themselves. Someone befriends them ... (like) a distant relative or a local resident, and then the older person seems to be manipulated after that, especially financially.
We had an elderly man who was living by himself, and a younger man befriended him. The younger man ended up moving in and running the show. But when investigators checked, the older man said everything was OK. Maybe he didn't want to do anything to upset the younger man or maybe he didn't want to be alone.
Financial scams by phone and mail have been around forever, but are you finding now that the elderly are hit with a lot of email scams, too
We see so much more of it now. Maybe it's because we're better connected.
Call The Bee's Anita Creamer, (916) 321-1136.
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