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Elder abuse is more common than you think, say Yuma County senior advocates

Who will help make decisions when an older family member is hospitalized?
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Who will help make decisions when an older family member is hospitalized?

Elder abuse is more of an issue than you may think as it often doesn’t go reported.

Seniors and those who care for them in Yuma and La Paz counties should be aware of elder abuse and report anything suspicious.

That’s the message from senior care advocates in Yuma, including Carol Brown. She’s the Program Development and Advocacy Manager for the Western Arizona Council of Governments.

Brown said elder abuse can be physical, emotional and financial in nature and it can be from a relative or a trusted individual. She said we need to talk about it to remove the stigma.

“Stand up for yourself if you’re the older adult," Brown told KAWC. "You don’t have to tolerate abuse. If you’re the friend, the family member, the neighbor, recognizing it so you can take a stand for that person in your life."

Experts say elder abuse can be a "silent crime" as it doesn't always get reported. Brown said abuse can be from a spouse, a sibling, a child or a grandchild of an older adult.

There are laws in Arizona on "vulnerable adult abuse" but not specifically on elder abuse, she said. WACOG serves Yuma, La Paz and Mohave counties and the agency advocates for seniors in Phoenix.

One form of elder abuse is financial fraud, said Wendy Steward, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Yuma. This can be a robocall to someone asking for personal information because, according to the call, a bill needs to be paid.

A grandparent scam may target an older adult where the caller pretends to be their grandchild to ask for money. And a long-distance relationship scam may target a widow or widower or single older adult with the appearance of a relationship where the scammer asks for money.

John Hessinger, Community Development Director at Better Business Bureau in Yuma, reminds us that city government offices, the IRS and other public agencies will not call customers to demand payment. And paying in gift cards is never a legitimate transaction, Hessinger said.

A talk on elder abuse awareness and prevention will be held at the Foothills Library at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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