VENTURA, Calif. – Elder abuse is on the rise in Ventura County as it is nationwide. Local reports of elder abuse have increased by up to 13 percent during each of the past five years. The Adult Protective Services (APS) program offers help to those experiencing abuse or at risk of abuse.
APS is a 24-hour program administered by the County of Ventura Human Services Agency that investigates suspected abuse, neglect and self-neglect of adults who are aged 65 and older (elders), and adults who are aged 18-64 but who are vulnerable due to disabilities (dependent adults).
Abuse sometimes takes place at the hands of a stranger, but friends, neighbors and even family members can and do commit abuse and neglect. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or financial in nature. It can also surface as neglect, isolation, abduction or abandonment by a caretaker. Continuing a five-year trend, financial abuse is the most frequent type of elder abuse in Ventura County.
APS manager Marcy Snider explained, “Raising awareness about scams is critical for reducing financial abuse. We all deserve to lead happy and healthy lives free from abuse as we age, yet older people are mistreated more often than we think.”
Financial scams often involve phony romances; calls from individuals pretending to be grandchildren in distress; demands for fees in order to claim bogus prizes; false promises of foreign lottery winnings; manufactured email requests for banking information; and threats from individuals impersonating tax or debt collectors. Many scammers are now demanding payment in the form of brand name gift cards or prepaid cards for online retailers.
If APS receives a report of suspected financial abuse, APS social workers investigate money matters and may assist with securing restraining orders, changing bank accounts, and linking victims to law enforcement or legal services if needed. In addition to investigating the financial abuse report, APS social workers assess the victim’s overall circumstances, ensuring that the elder has sufficient food, medications, working utilities, and other services that can improve safety, health and well-being. Since APS is a voluntary program, individuals may choose to accept or decline help.
In addition to assisting individual victims of abuse, APS serves the broader community by providing outreach and educational information. APS is available to provide in-person workshops regarding common signs of abuse, how to protect oneself, and how to report suspected abuse. Workshops are offered to mandated reporters including health practitioners and care providers, as well as to senior groups and the general public.
If you suspect elder or dependent adult abuse or neglect, call APS’ 24-Hour Abuse Reporting Hotline at 805-654-3200. To request information, call APS at 805-658-4453.