There are approximately five million cases of elder abuse every year in
the United States. In San Diego, the number of case is rising rapidly.
According to Denise Nelesen, the communications manager for the County
Aging and Independence Services, the agency is receiving approximately
1,000 calls per month. She, like many others who work in the field, predicts
the number will only go up as the senior population grows in coming years.
As we have previously discussed on this Blog,
elder abuse can take many forms, from physical assault to neglect. California law
defines elder abuse as “physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse,
abandonment, isolation, abduction or other treatment with resulting in
physical harm or pain or mental suffering, or the deprivation by a care
custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm
or mental suffering.”
As Nelesen also highlights, the majority of San Diego physical and financial
elder abuse cases never get reported. Many victims are embarrassed, while
others are afraid of retaliation by the perpetrator or concerned that
family members will no longer let them live alone. Some may not even know
that they are being abused, particularly if they suffer from cognitive
issues or are heavily medicated.
Since the signs of abuse are often subtle, loved ones need to be proactive.
Actions include thoroughly researching care providers, nursing homes,
and assisted care facilities and remaining vigilant for signs of abuse,
which may include weight loss, poor hygiene, bruising, broken bones, bedsores,
anxiety, agitation, or depression.
ABC 10 News