How a society treats its most vulnerable, including seniors and dependent adults, is emblematic of what it values and respects.
Best practices and a partnership with law enforcement, including prosecutors, is part of a new program launched in San Diego County to address the rising number of elder law and dependent adult abuse incidents.
To address an increase in crimes against seniors, as well as the impending explosion of the elder population, District Attorney Summer Stephan met with professionals who deal with the elderly and dependent adults to identify gaps and needs in the community and to set goals for the future.
This group created the San Diego County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint, according to CBS8.com’s recent post, “County unveils new program to prevent elder abuse.”
Stephan said, "With this countywide initiative, we're proactively responding to an increase in elder abuse crime as this population continues to grow. This first-of-its-kind combating elder abuse blueprint will provide a coordinated regional response leveraging resources and partnerships to protect seniors and keep them safe in our community."
In San Diego County, about 23% of the population will be over age 65 by 2050—a 10% increase from 2015. The increase in the older population means that elder abuse is also on the rise.
In 2016, there were 780 violent crimes against senior citizens, an increase of 13% from the previous year and 37% from five years ago. Those 780 crimes included 14 homicides, 24 rapes, 205 robberies, and 537 aggravated assaults.
"What makes elder abuse so heartbreaking, and so difficult for outsiders to recognize, is that it often comes at the hands of caretakers or family members who have the victim's trust," said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott.
Without the full involvement of the authorities and the community, she added, it’s difficult to protect the elderly from fraud, neglect and abuse. It’s critical for the community to be aware of these crimes and available resources, and regional cooperation and mobilization must be part of the solution.
Reference: CBS8.com (March 1, 2018) “County unveils new program to prevent elder abuse”