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Posted Feb 27, 2012, 5:33 pm
We're taught to respect and protect our elders, but often they become the victims of abuse and neglect.
In 2011 Adult Protective Services investigated 1,285 cases of elder abuse in Pima County, said Tasya C. Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Security.
There actually were 1,648 allegations of abuse. Each case can contain multiple allegations. Almost 59 percent of these allegations stemmed from self-neglect, Peterson said.
Many of these seniors are unable to care for their own basic, medical or financial needs, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
The department encourages concerned individuals to be aware of changes in behavior, the emotional health, physical appearance and home conditions of their older acquaintances.
Cases of self-neglect and non-criminal charges are reported to Adult Protective Services. They cannot force an adult to accept services or remove them from a harmful situation, but instead focus on connecting the individual with assistance, Peterson said.
“We make referrals for public for public fiduciary and guardianship services,” Peterson said.
APS also can refer other agencies like the Department of Health Services if the elder is in an inadequate care facility.
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In 32 percent of the cases, a family member was accused of committing a crime against an elderly family member. People become more frail as they age, but are also targets for identity theft and other scams, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
“If there is anything criminal, or if there is fraud occurring, we go after the individual and charge them appropriately,” Barkman said.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact Adult Protective Services to file a report at (877) 767-2385. If the individual is in immediate danger, call 911.