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Elder abuse can take many forms: elders can be vulnerable to the ploys of scam artists, taken advantage of by caregivers, hurt by family members, and neglected in nursing homes. Prevention and detection, through community education, are critical to stopping this insidious and often hidden problem.

Elder abuse includes physical, psychological, and financial abuse in addition to neglect:

  • Physical abuse includes physical and sexual assault; unreasonable restraint; deprivation of food and/or water; and inappropriate use of medication.
  • Emotional abuse includes verbal threats or intimidation; subjecting a person to fear, isolation or distress; confinement; and withholding emotional support.
  • Neglect includes failing to assist with personal hygiene; provide clothing, shelter, and/or medical care; protect from health and safety hazards; and prevent malnutrition and/or dehydration.
  • Financial abuse is the theft or embezzlement of money or any other property. Experts regard elder financial abuse the "crime of the 21st century," with an estimated 250,000 elder victims in California each year. Marin is one of the wealthiest counties in California and Marin elderly are a particularly attractive target for unscrupulous criminals and other fraudulent operators.

Don’t let yourself be a victim. If someone is hurting you, talk to someone you trust or report the abuse to Adult Protective Services or your local police department. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, report it.

Marin County residents are more often likely to be victims of financial abuse and the following information is offered so elders can take steps to protect themselves:

  • You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, speak to someone you trust or call your local Adult Protective Services.
  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure that your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your bank, an attorney or financial advisor about the best options for you.
  • Check references and credentials of anyone who wants to do work in your home or sell you anything, including a reverse mortgage or investments.
  • Do not allow employees to have access to or information pertaining to your finances.
  • Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances, as they can be on the lookout for any suspicious activity related to your account.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Never let yourself get rushed into a deal and always ask for details in writing.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards rather than cash to keep a paper trail.
  • Feel free to say “no” -- after all, it’s your money. Red flags for family, friends and financial institutions that may indicate elder financial abuse:
  • Sudden signs of change concerning financial transactions such as frequent or large withdrawals.
  • The elder may appear nervous or afraid of the person with them who may also express an unusual interest in the elder’s finances or who may act domineering or intimidating towards the elder.
  • Elders who close long-term accounts that result in penalty assessments.
  • Elders who are secretive about unusual financial transactions, or who are excited about a windfall or sweepstakes winning.
  • Unusual or first time wire transfers – especially Canada or any country outside the United States.
  • Elders who have become isolated by a family member or caregiver or are being neglected despite apparently having the funds available to provide for their care.
  • Failure by family members or others to pay for care but who appear to be living off the elder’s assets or in the elder’s home.

If you are in immediate danger 911
Adult Protective Services 415.507.2774
Long-Term Care Ombudsman 415.499.7446
District Attorney’s Office 415.499.6450
Ca Dept. of Justice (Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse) 800.722.0432

Last updated: 10/19/2007 1:59:49 PM