Elderly financial abuse not investigated

March 14, 2009 3:06:31 PM PDT
Beginning in January, Contra Costa County stopped providing services to protect elderly residents from financial abuse despite a state mandate to do so, according to a civil grand jury report released earlier this week.

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Under the Elder Abuse and Dependant Adult Civil Protective Act, the county is required to provide financial protective services to elderly citizens, a group that makes up more than 11 percent of the county's population, according to the report.

Adult children of elderly victims are believed to be the perpetrators of about 40 percent of all elder financial abuse. According to the report, residents 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population.

Between 2006 and 2008, more than 3,500 reports of elder abuse were brought to the county's Adult Protective Services department. More than 1,000 of those reports were for financial abuse.

But because of ongoing budget shortfalls in the county, one public health nurse, one mental health clinical specialist, nine social workers and two social work supervisors were laid off at the beginning of January.

"Due to staff reductions, APS will no longer be able to provide case management services for the elderly victims of abuse and neglect in Contra Costa County," the report stated.

All types of cases of suspected elder abuse are now referred to police departments, hospitals, the mental health department and the public guardian's office.

Elderly adults without sufficient financial resources are not eligible for assistance from the county's guardian program, according to the report.

The grand jury recommended that the county restore the positions of the public health nurse, mental health specialist and at least four social workers in the Adult Protective Services to enable the department to provide some mandated services to elderly citizens.

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