The Aging of Orange County

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The Ultimate Injustice

She attended every one of her daughter’s ballet recitals. He taught his son how to tie his first bow tie before the prom. The loving hearts with which this couple raised their children couldn’t imagine that their own offspring would fill them with fear one day and condemn them to the growing ranks of elder abuse victims.

The Ultimate InjusticeYet elder abuse and neglect is happening every day, a distressing trend reflected by the fact that reports of elder abuse in Orange County have increased nearly 60 percent from 2003 to 2013, according to Orange County Adult Protective Services (APS). Those with dementia are at even greater risk, with nearly half experiencing some form of elder mistreatment, according to a recent study by the UC Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect. In addition, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that nearly one in 10 of those over age 65 in California experiences abuse. Yet that figure might be even steeper in reality, as the NCEA estimates that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. And here in Orange County, residents age 85 and older are nearly six times as likely to suffer from abuse as those ages 65-69, according to APS.

It’s another invisible injustice that Orange County’s older adults endure.

Elder abuse doesn’t stop at sharp words or abusive hands. The National Adult Protective Services Association found that one in 20 older adults experienced recent financial mistreatment — nine times out of 10 by family members or trusted loved ones.

“Elder abuse is emerging as a huge problem; financial abuse is particularly problematic for seniors as it often goes unreported,” said Dr. Marilyn Ditty, chief executive officer, Age Well Senior Services.

Learn more: agewellseniorservices.org

Learn more: To learn about elder abuse prevention or assistance, visit agelessalliance.org