As the number of elderly people rise in the United States, many will require regular assistance day-to-day. One in five people will be a senior citizen by 2030, according to the Foundation for Health in Aging. A shocking statistic also reports that between 1-2 million of them will experience abuse each year. 90% of abusers are family members and 1 in 5 cases are left unreported. Since seniors are the highest church-goers, an elder abuse prevention program, “Protecting Our Elders” focuses on educating interfaith communities about elder abuse. According to this article, a recent addition to California’s Welfare and Institutions Code mandates clergy members must inform authorities when elder abuse is suspected. So far, four summits have been held attended by 300 spiritual leaders to learn the signs of elder abuse, how to intervene and prevention. The message is also spread to seminaries so young clergy members become educated.
Nine categories of elder and dependent-adult abuse are recognized in California: physical, emotional, sexual, financial, abandonment, isolation, abduction, self-neglect and neglect. In affluent communities such as Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, the elderly often become victims of fraud or are targeted in scams. Through the program, church leaders are taught to recognize subtle signs of financial abuse, which often stems from feelings of intimidation. As a personal injury attorney in San Bernardino, I am glad this program will encourage others to learn the signs of elder abuse.