Elder Safety

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Statistics uncover a frightening picture of elder abuse in California. One of every 20 elderly people will be a victim of neglect or physical, psychological, or financial abuse this year.

By the year 2020, the number of elderly in California is expected to double to 6.6 million. Already, there are 4.8 million Californians over 60 years of age.

As the elderly population increases, so will the incidence of elder abuse . . .if we don't take action. As a community, we must recognize the seriousness of this problem and take steps to prevent it.

Elder Abuse

There are four general categories of elder abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Financial (fiduciary) Abuse
  • Neglect

The following cases illustrate the four generally recognized types of elder abuse. Some cases involve more than one type of abusive behavior, such as the abuser victimizing the elderly person both physically and emotionally. (The victims' names have been changed.)

Physical Abuse

Annie Wilson, 76, was assaulted several times by her son who was living with her at home. Neighbors reported these incidents to the police, but the victim and her son denied everything, claiming instead that the neighbors were assaulting them!

The abuse continued until finally the son knocked his mother down, hurting her badly enough that she needed hospitalization. Although Mrs. Wilson still didn't want to press charges, the injuries were severe enough that the son was arrested and charged with felony elder abuse.

Psychological/Emotional Abuse

Bertha Anderson, a deaf, legally blind, and wheelchair-bound woman in her 60's, told a neighbor that she was afraid her husband was going to kill her. His behavior was bizarre and he was threatening her with a gun. The neighbor called county adult protective services, and a social worker arranged to pick the woman up and drive her to a local women's shelter.

Mrs. Anderson revealed that her husband never let her go out and had kept her virtually a prisoner. He had refused to take her to an eye doctor, so she lost the sight in one eye due to cataracts. Following surgery for a broken hip, her husband refused to allow her to receive the therapy she required to walk again.

With the help of the social worker, Mrs. Anderson obtained a low-income apartment adapted for a wheelchair and qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and In-Home Support Services. She also got involved in recreational and social programs sponsored by the Blind Aid Society, and received appropriate medical care for her eyes and injured hip.

Financial Abuse

Robert Evans has a history of alcoholism and his mental condition is such that he is very forgetful. The 67-year-old man had previously suffered a fall, resulting in a broken hip. Unable to shop for himself, he was befriended by three women who offered to help him with shopping and cooking.

The women quickly gained his trust and began asking him for money. Mr. Evans wrote checks to the women, but a short time later would forget that he did so. They kept asking for more money, and not recalling the previous check, he would write another.

Tellers at Mr. Evans' bank became suspicious of the large amounts of money being withdrawn from his account and asked the police department and county conservator to investigate the situation. A freeze was placed on the account, but more than $17,000 had already been removed. Eventually the three women were arrested and charged with fiduciary elder abuse.

Neglect

Rita Reates is a confused and incontinent 91-year-old woman who is cared for by her granddaughter. On one occasion she was found in saturated adult diapers, and on another, she was restrained with ropes around her waist and had several small cuts over her eyes.

While the granddaughter appeared to care a great deal for her grandmother and tried hard to meet her needs, Mrs. Yeates required around-the-clock care. Her doctor stated that she needed nursing home care. Adult protective services staff investigated and successfully placed Mrs. Yeates in a nursing home.

What You Can Do

We all have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. If an elderly person you know is being victimized, it is important for you to take action to stop it. Without intervention, abuse almost always escalates. Because victims are often reluctant to report it, an elderly person's well being may depend on you to recognize and report suspected abuse.

Reporting Elder Abuse

Reporting suspected elder abuse is simple. Call the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman or local law enforcement to report abuse in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home or board and care home.

Abuse occurring anywhere other than a long-term care facility should be reported to the county Adult Protective Services agency (APS).

If you suspect abuse that seems to be life threatening, don't hesitate. Call the police or sheriff's department. They will notify any other agency that may need to be involved.

For further information on this program and other crime prevention material, write to:

  • Crime & violence Prevention Center
    California Attorney General's Office
    P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.
    http://caag.state.ca.us/cvpc
  • Ventura Police Department 650-8010
  • Adult Protective Services 805.654.3200

Ombudsman Program (One Caring for Many)

Almost one-half of all Americans over 65 years old will spend some time in a long-term care facility. Ombudsmen help assure the highest quality of life and care possible for our elderly in long-term care facilities throughout Ventura County.

The Ombudsman's Mission

The Ventura County Ombudsman Program is founded on the principle that elderly persons unable to care for themselves are entitled to dependable and consistent care.

The Ventura County Ombudsman Program's mission is to assure the highest quality of life and care possible for those elderly persons in long-term care - most of whom are frail, vulnerable, and unable to represent themselves.

Who is an Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman (om-budz-man) is a specially trained and certified individual, either volunteer or staff, who advocates for quality care for elderly residents in Ventura County's long-term care facilities.

All Ombudsmen complete 36 hours of initial training, 15 hours of field service, and 12 hours each year of continuing education. He or she is certified by the California Department of Aging and accepts assignment to skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities throughout Ventura County.

To ensure quality care, the Ombudsman coordinates with licensing and regulatory agencies as well as law enforcement. The Ombudsman Program derives its authority from The Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., and Human Resources Code, Chapter 101, Subchapter C. 40 T.A.C.

Ombudsman Services

Certified Ombudsmen fulfill vital services to our elderly by:

  • Providing pre-placement counseling for those considering long-term care options.
  • Identifying, investigating, and resolving complaints by or on behalf of the residents in either nursing facilities or board and care homes.
  • Providing services such as community education, direct caregiver and law enforcement training to assist in protecting the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents.
  • Informing residents about obtaining services.
  • Representing the interests of residents before governmental agencies.
  • Providing support group services to the resident's family members and loved ones.

Please call an Ombudsman when...

  • you are facing long-term care decisions for yourself or a loved one and would like information on Ventura County facilities and long-term care options.
  • you suspect elder abuse or neglect within any long-term care facility throughout Ventura County.
  • you have had to place a loved one in long-term care and are experiencing trauma and guilt.
  • you are confused about laws governing residents' rights, elder abuse or neglect.
  • you would like to become a volunteer and help ensure a quality life for our frail elderly in long-term care.
  • you need any information regarding long-term care.

The Ombudsman Program is administered by:

Long-Term Care Services of Ventura County, Inc.
1841 Knoll Dr.
Ventura, CA 93003
www.OmbudsmanVentura.org
Telephone (805) 656-1986,
FAX (805) 658-8540.

All services are free and confidential
Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Call 805-656-1986 for emergency number