Elder and Dependent Abuse
Call San Diego County Aging & Independence Services at (800) 510-2020 to report suspected instances of neglect and psychological, physical, financial, or sexual abuse of elders and dependent adults. This agency carries out investigations and provides assistance and case management where appropriate. The SDPD will be informed if abuse is involved. If you know that abuse has occurred, you should call SDPD directly at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. If the abuse is in progress, you should call 911. The police will investigate, take steps to protect the victim, prosecute the perpetrator, and inform the appropriate County office. The following are some signs of various types of elder and dependent adult abuse:
- Neglect. Inadequate clothing, missed medical appointments, dirty and unkempt appearance, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, home that smells of urine or feces, utilities turned off, no food in home, or lack of necessary medications, eyeglasses, hearing aid, etc.
- Psychological abuse. Unreasonable or excessive fears, withdrawal, loss of appetite, agitation, isolation from family and friends, unexplained bouts of crying, or confusion.
- Physical abuse. Bites, burns, and unexplained broken bones, welts, or bruises.
- Financial abuse. Changes in long-established banking routines; third-party involvement in financial transactions, especially unusual ones; account activity involving unusually large and frequent withdrawals, numerous checks made to “cash,” new use of ATMs, new names on accounts, out-of-sequence checks, sudden transfers of assets, property refinancing with cash out, transactions that can’t be remembered or explained, and power of attorney requests that can’t be explained or understood; payments to claim prizes, obtain unnecessary or inappropriate services, and provide additional income to caregivers; increases in credit card activity failure to pay outstanding balances in full as in the past; fearful or anxious in presence of a third party; worried about theft of assets; and sudden decline in appearance or hygiene.
- Sexual abuse. Unexplained venereal diseases or genital infections, bruising or bleeding in the genital area, unexplained pain or itching in the genital area, or torn, stained, or bloody underwear.
Self-neglect is also a serious problem for older persons. Suspicions of it should also be reported to San Diego County Aging & Independence Services. Signs include a worsening of medical conditions or a sudden change in weight or hygiene.
For current information on preventing elder abuse in San Diego County go to the Aging & Independence Services website, click on All Services A-Z, select AIS Publications under Staying Informed, and then select the Safe Seniors newsletter. It is published quarterly. Or you can call (858) 505-6474 to have it sent by mail. Its articles include features about related programs and services, items of general interest regarding elder abuse prevention, and a listing of current legislation related to elder abuse. This newsletter is a combined effort of Aging & Independence Services and the District Attorney's office.
Another source of phone numbers and information on elder abuse and consumer protection is the Safe Seniors page of the San Diego County District Attorney’s website. This page is a valuable tool for those who are mandated to report elder abuse, as well as neighbors, family members, and friends who suspect elder abuse of a scam against an older adult.
At the federal level the National Center on Elder Abuse serves as a resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder abuse. On its website you will find information on:
- How to find help if you are worried about a senior in your community
- Definitions, signs, and risks of elder abuse
- Resources for caregivers
Some other resources are listed below:
San Diego County Mental Health Services
San Diego County Public Guardian
State of California
Office of the Attorney General
Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud/Elder Abuse