June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

Elder abuse flag

According to a statement from the Sonoma County Human Services Department, elder abuse reports in Sonoma County continued to rise in 2018, even though it’s one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. Last year, calls to Adult Protective Services (APS) and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman totaled 6,460, the highest of any year, and a 2% rise from 2017.

Prevention and intervention in elder abuse and neglect by caring community members is vital to the health of Sonoma County, where residents age 60 and older account for 25% of the population. To increase awareness here, the Elder Justice Coalition, a group of community partners, has organized several activities to honor Elder Abuse Awareness Month in June.

To build awareness and action on these crimes against members of our community, signs and banners urging “Notice a Senior in Crisis” and get them help by calling authorities are posted in Healdsburg, Windsor, Sebastopol and Petaluma.

Since no area in Sonoma County is immune from elder abuse and neglect, including self-neglect, senior centers countywide will display purple flags to show the number of reports last year in their communities:

·        Cloverdale Senior Multi-Purpose Center: 181 reports

·        Healdsburg Senior Center: 158 reports

·        Petaluma Senior Center: 814 reports

·        Rohnert Park Senior Recreation Center: 530 reports

·        Russian River Resource Center: 259 reports

·        Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Senior Center: 3253 reports

·        Sebastopol Area Senior Center: 396 reports

·        Vintage House Senior Center, Sonoma Valley: 454 reports

·        Windsor Senior Center: 147 reports

To help older adults avoid current scams and fraud, including elder financial abuse, the coalition will offer two free presentations on Frauds, Scams and Other Types of Elder Abuse. The first will take place Thursday, June 20 at The Sebastopol Area Senior Center, 167 N. High St., from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The second will take place Monday, June 24 at the Healdsburg Senior Center, 133 Matheson St., after its Senior Potluck, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

Participants will learn about how to detect and prevent scams, as well as the common frauds and scams that target older adults. To learn more or schedule a presentation, visit senioradvocacyservices.org/elderjustice/ or call the Elder Justice Coalition Coordinator at 707-526-4108.

Calls to local elder abuse reporting hotlines can be made 24-hours-a-day and can be confidential and anonymous.

To report concerns about elders living in homes or apartments in the community, call Sonoma County APS at 707-565-5940 or 800-667-0404.

For concerns about residents of skilled nursing and residential care facilities, call the Ombudsman at 707-526-4108 or 800-231-4024.

For more information about how to recognize and report elder abuse, visit socoelderprotect.org.

A statewide campaign by the Elder Justice Workgroup of the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging seeks to increase awareness of all forms of elder abuse and encourage reporting to the proper agency. The campaign is titled, KNOW ABUSE. REPORT ABUSE. Social media links to the informational campaign include the Twitter hashtags #kNOwAbuseReportAbuse and #StopElderAbuse.

-Submitted by Kris Montgomery, Communications Manager, Sonoma County Human Services Department

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