The City of Pasadena and WISE & Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program recognize elder abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
At the June 13 city council meeting, Mayor Victor M. Gordo will proclaim June 15, 2022, Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Pasadena. Purple flags have been placed at city hall to signify the number of abuses reported by Pasadena residents, and to honor those who have been affected by elder abuse.
In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” (WEAAD) in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse.
WEAAD serves as a call to action for local communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders.
“The basic human rights of older adults are challenged each and every day. Tragically, this has never been more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pasadena Public Health Department Director and Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh. “Our local efforts will heighten awareness that elder abuse is a serious issue that must be addressed. We all have a vital role to play in creating a peaceful, supportive and just society.”
Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected or exploited. Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences and can result in serious financial loss.
In the U.S., the estimated loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion, according to the National Council on Aging. Unfortunately, it occurs in every demographic and can happen to anyone. Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many of our communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.
In 2021, the Pasadena Police Department received 39 reports of elder abuse in Pasadena.
“Older adults are among the most vulnerable groups in our community and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Interim Police Chief Jason Clawson. “Elder abuse comes in many forms, including neglect or financial, emotional, sexual or physical abuse. We have a collective responsibility to protect senior residents by recognizing and reporting elder abuse when it occurs. Anyone with questions concerning elder abuse is urged to call the special victim unit supervisor, Sgt. Derek Locklin, at (626) 744-3863.”
Help prevent and address elder abuse by reporting it to authorities as soon as it is suspected. This also includes reporting any suspected abuse pertaining to nursing homes and residential care facilities. Physical injury, neglect and/or emotional or behavioral changes are all telltale signs of abuse that could be exhibited by a loved one and should compel you to take immediate action.
In regards to financial abuse, specific steps you can take to reduce your risk include:
- Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry.
- When no longer needed, shred junk mail, old bills, bank statements, and any other documents that have personal identifying information.
- Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you originated the call and know with whom you are speaking. Particularly safeguard your social security number.
- It is okay to be rude. If a salesperson calls you or comes to your door and they’re not taking no for an answer, it is okay to terminate the conversation. Hang up the phone or close the door. You don’t have to let yourself be pressured into anything.
- Never sign something that you don’t understand. Have a trusted and unbiased professional assist you when entering contracts or signing legal documents.
- If you hire someone for personal assistance services, in-home care services, etc., ensure that they have been properly screened, with criminal background checks completed.
To report elder abuse in Pasadena, call the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241.
By doing all that we can to strengthen the social support structure, local cities can reduce social isolation, protect communities and families against elder abuse and build a community that lives up to our promise of justice for all.