When older adults become victims of elder abuse in their own homes, do they have any options to escape the violence? According to a recent article in the Orange County Register, more elderly adults are reporting that they’ve been the victims of physical abuse in Southern California, and the Orange County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Registry received more than 9,000 such reports last year alone.
Elder Abuse on the Rise in Orange County
Over the last 10 years, the Orange County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Registry has received a 74 percent increase in reports of abuse. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the reported cases of abuse rose by nearly 14 percent. Of those calls, more than 75 percent involved seniors aged 65 and older. Yet experts suspect that the number is actually much higher. In other words, numerous cases simply go unreported.
Why wouldn’t elderly victims report their abuse? As officials from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department explain, “as with other domestic abuse cases, elderly victims often are afraid to report abusers because they are family members,” and they’re also often “financially dependent on them.” And when elderly victims of abuse do report it, they don’t have a lot of options to escape their abusers. Elder advocates have noted that “shelter options” in Orange County and elsewhere in California “are scarce for those over 65 who live in dangerous situations.”
Indeed, law enforcement agencies emphasize that elder abuse perpetrators frequently are family members. Even when elderly Californians do report abuse and their abusers must face the criminal consequences of their actions, the “victims are left without caregivers and safe living conditions.”
Elder Shelter Network and Pilot Program
It’s simply unacceptable for thousands of older adults in Southern California to be forced to remain in the residence of an abuser because they don’t have another place to go. Advocates in the area agree, and on March 1st of this year, a committee that includes various agencies in Orange County launched a pilot program known as the “Elder Shelter network.”
The Elder Shelter network is, according to the article, “the first of its kind in California.” It reaches out to long-term care agencies, including the Silverado group and the be.group to “reserve beds in their housing facilities for older victims who need to be moved.” The be.group, based on information contained in the nonprofit’s website, is one of the largest providers of senior living communities in California. It offers licensed communities to elderly residents throughout Southern California.
In addition to donating a specific number of beds for elders who have been the victims of abuse, the agencies involved in the pilot program will also provide “trained staff to care for those individuals.”
Whether it’s abuse at the hands of a family member or a staff member at an assisted-living facility, elderly Californians deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem in California, and it’s important to be vigilant. If you are concerned that an elderly loved one has been physically or emotionally abused, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.
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