Thousands of elders become victims of financial abuse each year. Studies have sought to determine why so many elders fall prey to financial scams, and by and large, it is the vulnerability of elders that puts them at greatest risk for being victimized. Whether that abuse is initiated via phone scams, where thieves claim to be from the IRS, or via people who are trying to scam elders via a trust mill, there are a lot of people seeking to take advantage of elders in California.

Senior seminars, which advertise a free lunch, are yet another common scam used for financial predators to target potential victims. The scam works like this:

*There is a “Senior Seminar” advertised/offered which provides a free lunch.

There are plenty of opportunists (read: criminals) looking for ways to obtain the sensitive, personal information of seniors. From digging through trash, to stealing from mailboxes, identity theft is alive and well in 2015. Many criminals specifically seek out the information of California seniors, who may be more vulnerable to having their identity stolen.

While there is no foolproof way to guarantee that your private information (date of birth, bank account numbers, social security number, etc.) won’t fall into the hands of someone with bad intentions, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you or an elder you love will fall prey to identity theft.

  1. Shred Everything

It is no secret that many people have difficulty asking others for help. Elders living in Southern California are no different. Even though physical and mental capabilities may start to diminish with aging, it is still not easy for many seniors to let others know they are struggling.

That is why it is up to all of us to keep an eye on aging family members or friends. Here is a list of warning signs that a senior you love may need help from family members or professionals.

  1. Abnormal or repeated phone calls If your grandmother, mother, father, or other elder family members begin making phone calls to you repeatedly, or at peculiar times of day, it may indicate confusion. It may also be a sign of memory loss, or could indicate that the elder is feeling lonely or depressed. If you notice these types of calls, try scheduling set calls with your loved one every day to see if they stick to those times and calls. If they don’t, it may be indicative of cognitive decline.

If a loved elder in your family is showing signs that they need assistance in their lives because they are no longer able to manage everything as they once did, it’s time to consider what type of help/assistance they need. There are many different types of assistance available, ranging from housekeepers to attorneys.

Here’s a look at the different types of assistance available for seniors in San Diego.

1. Emergency Response Alarms Because so many elders fall each year, with many facing grave injuries or illness as the result of a fall, it’s imperative that an elder at risk for falling have an in-home emergency response device installed. This will ensure that an elder who has fallen will receive appropriate and immediate treatment.

2. Non-Medical In-Home Assistance The types of services offered through non-medical in-home assistants may include transportation to appointments, help with grocery shopping and meal preparation, bill paying, housekeeping and even just companionship. However, it’s crucial that you thoroughly check references of any one who will be assisting a loved elder. Seek out only those who are bonded and insured for added assurance that your loved elder will be well cared for.

3. Respite Care/Spousal Care Respite care or spousal care is available for family members who choose to care for their loved elder themselves. Because caregivers and spouses may face challenges in caring for their loved ones, you may wish to contact the San Diego Regional Office of Respite Services to help find assistance so that the caregiver may have time off to attend to personal tasks and obligations.

4. Residential Care Assisted Living Homes
Assisted living homes will generally offer elders a wide variety of services including meals, laundry, daily activity assistance, medication supervision and/or transportation services. To find an assisted living facility in San Diego, you may consider visiting SeniorHomes.com to begin your search for the best facility for your loved one.

If you are uncertain as to what type of assistance your loved elder needs, you may want to consult a Geriatric Care Manager, such as those available at www.eldercareguides.com. These San Diego experts will work with you to determine what types of care your elder may require, and provide you with a host of options to meet your needs.

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Nearly 70% of elder abuse victims are women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is worth noting that the population of elder women is much larger than the population of elderly men in the United States, however, that does not make these alarming statistics any less disturbing.

Why are women the victims of elder abuse more often than men? There are a few reasons most experts tend to agree upon.

  1. Elderly females may be seen as easier targets for physical, financial, emotional, or even sexual abuse.

In California, the family of an elder who has passed away due to nursing home neglect or abuse has the right to file a lawsuit against the perpetrators seeking damages for the pain and suffering the elder was subjected to, and the wrongful death caused by the neglect.

To prove that an elder died in a California nursing home due to neglect, experienced California elder abuse attorneys will help you complete a thorough investigation to determine whether the evidence supports the necessary elements to prove the defendant failures caused the death. The following include some of the criteria that will be analyzed:

1.Supplying the necessaries of nutrition, hydration, hygiene or medical care for an elder or dependent adult;

Southern California elders – particularly those residing in nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities – are unfortunately prone to developing life-threatening bedsores. Bedsores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, can lead to a host of health problems, particularly in elders whose health may already be compromised. Similarly, because many elders may be confined to a bed or wheelchair, their risk for developing these sores is increased.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

People are at risk of developing pressure sores if they have difficulty moving and are unable to easily change position while seated or in bed. Immobility may be due to:

By law, the staff members employed by California nursing homes are required to report health changes observed in the elders residing in their facilities. Unfortunately, all too often these changes are unreported. The change in condition of a resident may not be reported for a variety of reasons, including fear that the nursing home be may fined for understaffing, or neglecting California elders residing within the facility. In other cases, a resident who has experienced a rapid deterioration in condition, may indicate that isolation, neglect, or even abuse is occurring within a facility.

Failure to report changes in condition to an elder’s doctor and family members is a violation of the law.

Changes in an elder’s condition which must be reported may include, but is not limited to:

Isolation is a form of Elder Abuse in California, per California Penal Code §15610.43. Elder abuse is a violation of the rights of elders by those charged with caring for them in facilities, such as California nursing homes. California nursing homes are required to provide reasonable care, and any intent to do otherwise constitutes a criminal action.

Elder Isolation may include:

*Any intentional actions, which prevent an elder resident from making or receiving phone calls, or having contact with family and friends outside of their residential, nursing facility.

In California, financial elder abuse is defined in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.30. The code states: “Financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity… takes, secrets, appropriates, obtains, or retains [or assists in doing any of these] real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful purpose or with intent to defraud or both.”

Although financial abuse is far too prevalent, the best defense against opportunists who would seek to defraud elders out of their money, property or belongings, is preventing the abuse in the first place. Although there is no surefire way to ensure that your loved one’s finances are protected at all times, there are warning signs to look for, which can indicate that financial abuse is taking place.

In an effort to best protect a loved elder from financial abuse including a loss of their property, assets or money, be on the lookout for these warning signs that a caregiver, a family member or even a staff member at a California nursing home is victimizing elders: