Combating Elder Abuse in San Diego County
Disturbed by a startling increase in the number of seniors experiencing abuse at the hands of caregivers, officials in San Diego County have unveiled a new roadmap aimed at protecting the elderly from harm and neglect.
The San Diego County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint was unveiled Thursday after months of input from experts and community stakeholders. It is a project of the District Attorney’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement agencies, and the county’s department of Aging and Independence Services.
“Our society will be judged on how we treat our most vulnerable, including our children and our seniors,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “With this countywide initiative, we’re proactively responding to an increase in elder abuse crime as this population continues to grow. This first of its kind combatting-elder-abuse blueprint will provide a coordinated regional response leveraging resources and partnerships in order to protect seniors and keep them safe in our community.”
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the increase in San Diego County’s elderly population is proving to be an important test for the county.
“And as the population grows, so does the potential for abuse and neglect,” added Jacob. “The region needs a roadmap, a blueprint, to address the growing challenges facing vulnerable seniors and their families.”
San Diego has seen a 37 percent increase in the number of violent crimes against senior citizens in the past five years, making it the fastest growing crime in San Diego County. There were 780 violent crimes against seniors in 2016, including 14 homicides, 24 rapes, 205 robberies, and 537 cases of aggravated assault.
The blueprint provides a written set of goals the county hopes to achieve. It includes new guidelines for first responders, investigators and any other agencies handling elder abuse cases. The county will also increase efforts to educate the public about detecting and reporting signs of elder abuse and neglect.
San Diego’s recent efforts could become a model for other counties. Abuse and neglect of senior citizens is a nationwide problem, which is expected to increase alongside our rapidly aging population.
You can learn more about the signs and impacts of elder abuse at the National Council on Aging. To report an incident call (800) 510-2020 or (800) 339-4661 if you live in San Diego County.