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Fight Elder Abuse in California

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June is set to become Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Awareness Month in California, and there's no better time to highlight the dangers of elder abuse than now. Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa) is the author of the resolution to make awareness of the threat to our seniors an official priority, and he's already seen success in his initiative. The bill has passed through the Assembly with bipartisan backing and is now set to go to the Senate floor.

Dodd should be recognized for his initiative in the fight against elder abuse, and we should remember that our home state is on the front line of this battle. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, California constitutes 11% of all elder abuse cases across the United States. And with the fastest-expanding population of senior citizens in America, California's problem of elder abuse is only going to grow.

One in ten elderly Californians are likely to be victimized, and the forms of abuse are more diverse than you might think. Not only should we consider physical battery and neglect, the results of which are terrible enough - there are also other less noticable types of this crime. Isolation, emotional manipulation and intimidation are often used as vehicles of undue influence, itself a common method of gaining access to the victim's money - elder financial abuse. And while caretakers, financial professionals, lawyers and others have all been guilty of exploitation, the most frequent culprits are unfortunately family members.

Whatever our status - from family members and caretakers to attorneys, bank employees and other professionals - Californians must mount a team effort in each of their communities against elder abuse. As Assemblyman Dodd remarked:

Seniors are unfortunately often targets for abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It's critical that we provide our seniors with the resources and protection they need and deserve. We need to support and respect our seniors year-round, and this resolution helps provide a statewide recognition of this issue and gives advocates around the state a perfect opportunity to work collaboratively to help end this abuse.

Preventing elder abuse in whatever guise it might take is indeed a year-round task. So let's prove that we're up to the challenge - keep an eye out for signs that something's not right with aging relatives, patients, or business clients, and speak out against suspected wrongdoing to adult protective services or law enforcement. We as Californians can do better to hold bad actors accountable and protect our elderly loved ones. 

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