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Archive for July, 2009

I recently went to a meeting of the San Francisco Supportive Housing Network. As luck would have it, the District Attorney’s Office was invited that day to give a presentation on the little known subject of Elderly Abuse. I was shocked at how widespread this problem is and how little is known about the dynamics that play out between elders and those that take advantage of them. Elderly Abuse is quite commonly seen in the form of financial abuse, but also includes isolation, abandonment, neglect and abduction; in addition to the more widely known issue of physical or sexual abuse. They are literally preyed upon by others, including family and those they consider close friends. The abuse often goes unreported because of the shame victims feel for getting into such a situation, which is why there are many mandated reporters such as myself.

For our population, you might think this is less of an issue since homeless seniors don’t have much savings or income to live off of. However it is just as much of an issue for them and seems to take a different form. I’ve learned from speaking to other professionals that seniors are just as preyed upon in the SROs. These are the Single Resident Occupancy Hotels that provide permenant residences for many homeless people. Other occupants will steal from the seniors, use their rooms to take drugs in, befriend the seniors and coerce them to use their little income on the abusers. Sadly, these situations can even result in the more classic forms of abuse. Some of these residences have unsanitary conditions such as bed lice or fail to provide services they should such as case management, which are issues for all the residents.

How sad that our culture and other’s have degraded to the point that instead of respecting our elders and going to them for their wisdom, our seniors are being taken advantage of. But there are organizations out there, like VeraMax, that are working to serve and protect our seniors. How fortunate am I to be able to not only help these women, but to learn from them and gain a perspective in my own young life only gained from the stories of my elders.

Through this blog I hope to not only share with you the plight of our elders, but also the wisdom they have gained through their years of life so that we may all become more enriched and compassionate. On that note, when was the last time you called your elder?

If you know of or suspect a case of elderly abuse, you do not have to be a mandated reporter to call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-814-0009. For more information visit their website at www.ci.sf.ca.us/dhs/aps.gov.

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