Crimes against the elderly are increasing at a disturbing rate in San Diego, California. In 2016, the last year with data available, the violent crime against elderly San Diego residents increased 13%. This accounts for 780 violent crimes against the vulnerable senior citizens living in San Diego – 14 homicides, 24 rapes, 205 robberies, and 537 aggravated assaults, according to CBS 8. In total, elder abuse cases, which include other types of elder abuse such as financial abuse and mental suffering, increased by 39% between 2015 and 2016.
The rise in elder abuse is especially problematic as San Diego increasingly becomes a destination for retirees. According to CBS, the number of San Diego residents over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 23% by 2050. Currently, only 13% of San Diego County residents are over the age of 65.
Because more elderly residents could mean more elder abuse, San Diego is proactively trying to protect this vulnerable group of people. The District Attorney’s office, responsible for prosecuting crimes, gathered several government agencies, including the Aging and Independent Services, and created the “San Diego County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint.”
The Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint is meant to identify the unique needs and challenges faced by the elderly. According to Sheriff William Gore, these unique considerations include various health challenges, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, as well as any other related disorders or cultural issues. Then, the local government’s plan-of-action will implement “best practices” for handling these problems by looking at how other local governments and states handle the same issues.
San Diego County urges anyone who believes they may be a victim of elder abuse, or knows of someone who may be a victim, to call Adult Protective Services at 800.510.2020. In 2017, the hotline received 14,700 referrals and handled almost 10,000 cases. According to Adult Protective Services, this represents an increase in the number of callers, though the number of callers in previous years was not available. According to the agency, financial abuse was the most common form of elder abuse. Financial abuse occurs when an elderly person’s property or assets are being misused – typically through fraud, trickery, force, or threats of force. Mental suffering and physical abuse were listed as the second and third most common complaints, according to the agency.
Discussing the disturbingly high rate of elder abuse in San Diego and the government’s comprehensive response, District Attorney Summer Stephan told CBS News, “Our society will be judged on how we treated our most vulnerable, including our children and our seniors.”
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