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Recognize, report the abuse of elders and dependent adults

By From page A4 | June 21, 2017

June is Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Awareness Month. El Dorado County’s Adult Protective Services Program, part of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency, is making a special effort to reach out to community members during this month.

“We want everyone to recognize the signs of elder and dependent adult abuse, to take steps to prevent it and to make a report if they have concerns,” said Laura Walny, APS program manager.

El Dorado County has one of the fastest growing segments of older adults in California. People aged 65 and older currently represent nearly 20 percent of the county’s population and that number is expected to rise. “As our community ages, it is imperative that we come together as a community in support of health and safety,” said Walny.

APS is a state-mandated program that investigates situations that involve elders (age 65 and older) and dependent adults (18 to 64 year olds with a physical or mental disability) when those individuals are unable to meet their own needs or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. “APS staff assess situations of potential abuse or neglect; provide supportive services and linkage to County and community resources; and work with individuals, families and the community to provide a safety net for vulnerable older and dependent adults,” said Walny.

El Dorado County APS investigated approximately 1,250 reported cases of elder or dependent adult abuse in 2016, an increase of nearly 25 percent since 2015. According to Walny, APS staff is also available as a resource for people who have questions about possible abuse or neglect. If you are uncertain about making a report, please call us. We are happy to discuss situations and help determine if they rise to the level of APS intervention. As always, if someone is in immediate danger where their health or safety is at risk, you should not hesitate to call 911,” said Walny.

Know the Signs and Report Concerns

Elder and dependent adult abuse is defined as an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to the victim.

The State of California recognizes six types of abuse:

  • Self-neglect: Refusal or failure to provide himself/herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene or medications (if indicated)
  • Physical abuse: The use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment, or any physical injury to an adult caused by other than accidental means
  • Neglect by others: Failure to provide the basic care or services necessary to maintain the health and safety of an adult; this failure can be active or passive
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual contact with a non-consenting adult or with an adult considered incapable of consenting to a sexual act
  • Financial abuse: The illegal or unethical exploitation and/or use of an elder’s money, property or other assets
  • Mental abuse: Verbal or emotional abuse such as threatening significant physical harm or threatening or causing significant emotional harm to an adult through the use of derogatory or inappropriate names, insults, verbal assaults, profanity or ridicule; or harassment, coercion, threats, intimidation, humiliation, mental cruelty or inappropriate sexual comments.

Victims may suffer from several forms of abuse. Signs of abuse or neglect can include:

  • Bruises, black eyes and broken bones that are unexplained or inconsistent with injury
  • Torn, stained, bloody clothing or bedding
  • Lack of adequate food, water utilities, medications or medical care
  • Cluttered, filthy living environment; dirty clothing and changes in personal hygiene
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior
  • Unexplained purchases by the primary caregiver; another person’s name added to the bank account or important documents; new credit cards or increased cash withdrawals
  • Harassment, coercion, intimidation or humiliation

How to make a report
El Dorado County APS has a 24-hour hotline to report abuse of elder or dependent adults. To report suspected abuse or neglect call (530) 642-4800.

To report suspected abuse of an elder in a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or assisted living facility, call the State Crisis Line number at 1-800-231-4024 or the El Dorado County Long Term Care Ombudsman program at (530) 621-6271.

For more information about APS or Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs, as well as other programs and supports for seniors in El Dorado County visit edcgov.us/HHSA.

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