`Elder Abuse Awareness Day’ Reminder of Need to Protect Vulnerable Residents

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – An international campaign to prevent abuse of seniors who are dependent on others for their care will be recognized by Riverside County agencies Thursday as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an opportunity to consider the ways in which the county’s “most vulnerable” residents can be mistreated and how to stop it, according to officials.

“Riverside County residents deserve to age with dignity and respect,” county Chief Executive Officer Jeff Van Wagenen said. “Our senior citizens are among our most vulnerable populations, and as such, we must, as a society, increase our understanding of elder abuse. Check in on your families, friends, and neighbors. Ask how they are doing. We can all work together to make a difference to prevent elder abuse.”

According to the Department of Public Social Services, roughly 1 in 10 seniors in the United States suffers “abuse, neglect or exploitation” annually.

“Every year, Riverside County Adult Protective Services receives about 50,000 calls and online reports of suspected elder abuse and neglect,” the agency said. “Those reports lead to approximately 19,000 investigations per year.”

Officials believe cases of abuse and neglect often go unreported due to victims’ lack of safety net resources.

“Many of us know about instances involving the exploitation or neglect of someone we know, or even in our own families,” Assistant Director of Adult Protective Services Todd Bellanca said. “That is why it is important to be vigilant in engaging with our elders and other vulnerable adults in our communities. We can offer lifelines to those who need help by reporting abuse when we see it.”

The following examples have been cited as red flags for anyone suspicious that abuse is occurring:

— an elder or dependent adult going without food, water and other basic amenities;

— dirty clothing and lack of personal hygiene;

— bruises, black eyes, broken bones;

— bloody, ripped or stained clothing and sheets;

— acts of harassment, intimidation or humiliation; and

— caregiver’s apparent misuse of senior’s or disabled adult’s funds.

The county operates a 24-hour hotline to take reports of elder abuse at 800-491-7123.

Instances involving potential abuse at a residential care facility or assisted living facility should be referred to the California Department of Adult Protective Services at 833-401-0832.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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