COVID-19 has profoundly impacted all of our lives. As we isolate from those closest to us – family, friends, neighbors and colleagues – for older people living in the community or in long-term care settings, the trials are even greater. Social isolation is one of the greatest risk factors for elder abuse.
In California, elder abuse is significantly underreported. For every case of elder or dependent adult abuse known to agencies, 24 are unknown. June is observed as National Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Awareness Month
, a statewide effort to increase awareness of elder and dependent adult abuse and to increase reporting of suspected abuse, not only in the month of June but all year long.
There are numerous forms of maltreatment and abuse, such as: physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. Elder and dependent adult abuse does not discriminate. Any adult 65 years and older or an adult between the ages of 18 to 65 that requires extra care due to physical or mental limitations can be a victim.
"Social isolation can be difficult for seniors even in the best of times,” said Ruth MacKenzie. “We have to help our seniors feel connected especially during COVID-19 and make sure they have access to available local services so they can stay healthy and safe. Staying connected, phoning older adults, checking on an older neighbor, writing a card or letter, can all be positive steps to ensure public safety and social justice. ”
Seniors are in the highest risk for severe complications from COVID-19, during this challenging time, Sacramento County APS wants to emphasize that there are resources that are available in this time of need and uncertainty.
- Delivery of meals and groceries.
- If you are 60 years of age or older and are interested in receiving more information on food delivery programs, please call 2-1-1.
- California statewide hotline for seniors, 833-544-2374.
- This is a one-stop-shop to answer questions, get assistance during this crisis and help older Californians access grocery and medication delivery while staying at home.
The key to providing help is to recognize indicators that may point to abuse and neglect, including:
- Lack of adequate food, water and other amenities
- Dirty clothing and changes in personal hygiene
- Bruises, black eyes, broken bones
- Bloody, ripped or stained clothing or sheets
- Harassment, coercion, intimidation, humiliation
- Unexplained purchases by the primary caregiver
- Not performing routine activities of daily living such as bathing, housekeeping, eating, medication management
According to the latest data, in 2018, it is conservatively estimated that more than $5 million annually is lost to financial abuse annually within Sacramento County. At least 40 percent of this is due to scams. Therefore, it is important to know the signs of fraud scams making their way through Sacramento County:
- IRS: Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it can be paid through a wire transfer
- Grandparent Scam: Caller claims to be the victim’s grandchild traveling in a foreign country who has been arrested and needs money
- Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams: Caller says the victim is a winner and needs to make a payment to unlock the supposed prize
- COVID-19 Specific Scams
- Home test kits for COVID-19 scams: Scammers are calling or sending text messages to older adults offering “coronavirus test kits” in an attempt to collect credit card or banking information.
- Fake COVID-19-related products and services: Text and phone scams are advertising products, such as fake drugs, vaccines, and devices, that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19. Other scams are offering services for the home that falsely claim to protect people from contracting COVID-19. Fake gift-card emails are also being sent to vulnerable older adults to offer “assistance” during the crisis or “reward” people for following public health guidelines.
- Charity scams: Charity scams prey on older adults by aiming to collect money for fake COVID-19 relief charities.
To help a senior, make them aware that these scams exist. Older adults need to know that government agencies will never ask them to provide personal or payment information via phone, text or email.
If a senior you know receives a suspicious text, call, or email related to COVID-19, or if you think they might be a victim of a COVID-19 scam, you should file a complaint with the FCC
immediately and contact local law enforcement. You should also report any compromised financial information to the bank or credit card issuer and report compromised personal information such as Medicare, Social Security or health insurance ID numbers to the appropriate organization.
Creating a world without elder abuse begins first by raising awareness in our community. It starts by being mindful of the elders and dependent adults in your life and neighborhood and partnering together to educate those unaware. Elder abuse can happen to anyone. By partnering together, we can create the ultimate vision of a county where elder and dependent adult abuse does not exist.
Sacramento County has a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuse of older adults and disabled adults who may be physically or financially abused, neglected or exploited. The local APS number is (916) 874-9377. To report suspected abuse of an elder in a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly or assisted living facility, contact the State CRISIS line: 1-800-231-4024. To report abuse in all long-term care facilities, call: Ombudsman Services of Northern California at (916) 376-8910.