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Fighting Elder Financial Abuse in Sacramento County

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Respect your elders is a common value among most citizens. However, the spike in elder financial abuse has jumped to 72 percent since last year in Sacramento County. While this issue has received more public attention thanks to the internet, it has also become a double-edged sword for victims who use technology in their everyday life. The rise in baby boomers entering retirement, coupled with their basic internet literacy, has given scam artists and other criminals easy opportunities to abuse senior citizens.

Nonetheless, Sacramento County is preparing for the increase of elder financial abuse with the Adult Protective Services (APS) unit, which was reinstated in January 2015. According to Sacramento County, this financial abuse unit is a state-mandated program dedicated to maintaining the health and safety of elders and dependent adults subjected to neglect, abuse, or exploitation and who cannot protect their own interests. The services offered to the elderly to help prevent abuse are:

  • Provide 24 hour emergency response services.
  • Secure help from other counties or communities such as public health assessment and counseling services.
  • Advocacy for the elderly against landlords, doctors, and social services
  • Arrangement of meal delivery and transportation.
  • Consult with health and wellness providers to find the best possible service for the client.

Unfortunately, all these measures haven't yet put a stop to the rise in incidents of abuse across Sacramento. One month after the APS unit was created and advertised, 403 reports flooded into the office. Since the group's creation, reporting on all types of elder abuse have gone up by 29 percent. On the positive side, the issue of elder financial abuse throughout Sacramento County has been brought to light now that victims have a program to turn to. There seem to be three consistent factors leading up to the spike in financial exploitation of the elderly.

· Rising awareness of financial abuse: With the increase of public awareness, more criminals are also looking to cash in through elder financial abuse, which is seen as relatively easy to pull off.

· Retiring baby boomers: About twelve percent of the population in Sacramento County were sixty-five or older in 2014. This rise in retired citizens gives con artists a larger target set to exploit.

· Spike in technology: While the Internet can be helpful, fake emails and over-the-phone scams have made it easier to trick the elderly into helping fraudsters collect passwords and money.

Each of these factors have pushed up the statistics on elder financial abuse. With Met Life calling it the "crime of the twenty first century," more and more people will need be aware of Internet scams and online chatrooms only geared to taking advantage of the lonely elderly. Income security often determines the physical and mental health for the elderly. Now that APS is involved and handling more cases that ever, the people of Sacramento County can only hope that this threat to senior citizens will be effectively combatted.

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