Elder abuse is a huge problem in our community. It is difficult to get exact statistics because elder abuse is underreported. A 2010 study done by the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics, found 5,961,568 reported cases of elder abuse. The number reported reflects 9.5 percent of the total elder population in the United States. Out of that total, 68 percent was perpetrated by family members.
The largest crime affecting the elderly is financial abuse. Financial abuse is defined as someone illegally and/or improperly using an individual's money or property. Elder financial abuse is tough to combat since it often goes unreported. Many elderly victims often aren't aware of what is happening. They might be confused or scared or even embarrassed. Things you can do to keep yourself and/or your loved ones safe:
w Become informed about the most common scams.
w Be wary of anyone who is eager to manage your financial assets.
w Don't sign any documents without a lawyer, advocate or other trusted person present.
w It is OK to ask for help.
w Conduct background checks on anyone hired to become a care-giver.
w Consider direct deposit.
w Report suspicions to the police or Adult Protective Services at 877-389-3013. For more information please call CVSC at 374-0130.
ADRIANA CHAVEZ, General crimes advocate