Friday, June 15, 2012

Elder Abuse in 2012

The Seventh Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will be observed on June 15, 2012. This is a day that recognizes the horrendous problem of abuse of the elderly, including financial, assault, false imprisonment, neglect, exploitation, even rape or homicide. These crimes can happen to anyone. Actor Mickey Rooney and his family were in the news recently because of their experience with elder abuse. Californians aged 65 or older are projected to be the fastest-growing age group between 2000 and 2020, according to the Center for Budget Policy. By 2020, California will be home to the largest population of older adults in the United States, making it critical that we find increased and better ways to assist the elderly.

Seniors can be physically or sexually abused, but they are more likely to have their money or possessions stolen, which can be devastating on many levels. According to the California Attorney General, the financial abuse of seniors is so rampant it is being called “the crime of the 21st century.” For these seniors who have been so victimized, it can make them feel violated, angry, stupid or depressed. Seniors are hesitant to report these crimes because they don’t want their friends and family to think less of them or their decision-making abilities. Many financial abuse victims had led a long and happy life, but died feeling miserable because of the financial abuse they suffered.

Los Angeles County leads the way with approximately 160,000 cases of elder and nursing home abuse every year with most of these cases going unreported. Physical elder abuse is commonly committed by individual employees against patients in elder care facilities. These crimes include homicide, rape, false imprisonment, assault and battery. LA County alone represents 25% of all cases in California, followed by Orange County at approximately 53,000 cases, or 8.4% of the state’s cases of elder abuse. Just five of our 58 counties account for over half of all elder abuse cases: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Clara. Health care professionals, social workers, nursing home workers, employees of banks and credits unions and members of the clergy are required to make reports to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement if they suspect elder abuse.

On Elder Abuse Awareness Day, individuals and organizations are urged to raise awareness of the various types of abuse to which older individuals are subjected. This year, take a stand in the fight against elder abuse and take a stand for dignity and respect of our elders.

NOTE: Each county has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency to help elder adults (65 years and older) and dependent adults (18-64 who are disabled) when they are unable to meet their own needs, or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Contact your local county APS.

The following website has information on where to report instances of elder abuse:

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), appointed in 2008. VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.