Fresno Police Department
Elder abuse is more common than most people think. Many elders do not understand the problem and are unaware of the existing dangers. Abuse can range from mild to severe. Elder abuse is often a hidden and underreported crime. Criminals often target those who appear defenseless, unaware, and vulnerable.
Elder abuse could happen to you, an elderly friend, or elderly relative. Often the simple truth is that an elderly victim living alone has lost contact with others and may not be “looked in upon” regularly by family and friends. You can make a difference in the life of an elder who may have become an unwitting victim of financial abuse, or who is unknowingly being held a virtual captive, in their own home by person(s) who are exploiting the individual for their monthly social security, pension, or savings account money.
According to California State law, a person is classified as an elder when they are 65 years of age or older. State Penal Code Section 368 protects both the elderly and dependent adults 18-64 years of age. Do you have an elder in your life? If you are 25 years old you could have a 65 year old grandparent in your life. If you are 45 years old you could have a parent who is 65 or older.
Crimes against the elderly and dependent adults can either be financial or physical offenses. Approximately 75% or the crimes committed against elders are financial in nature, and majority of these crimes are committed in the individual’s own residence. Sadly, family members acting as “caregivers” are often the culprits.
Abuse, a crime that reached its peak in the 1990s, continues to impact the population today. Abuse affects many, whether it is through domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse. Violence often defines these crimes and involves family members of all ages.
The Fresno Police Department has helped to address these crimes of violence and abuse with the formation of the Family Justice Bureau; comprised of the Missing Persons Unit, Sexual Assault Unit, Child Abuse Unit, and Elder Abuse Unit. The Elder Abuse Unit was formed in 1999 with the assignment of two detectives to investigate reports of elder abuse.
A Senior Community Service Officer is assigned to the unit as the education liaison officer and presents educational public presentations to senior/elder organizations and to people interested in senior/elder issues. These presentations are designed to help build awareness and enhance elder abuse prevention strategies. Presentations are given to organizations, businesses and agencies that are in need of a program or in-service training. Subjects of interest include: identity theft, personal safety, elder abuse, scams and frauds, pedestrian safety, mandated reporting, and employee internal theft. If you would like to make arrangements for one of these presentations, please call (559) 621-2460.
How Do I Know When I See Elder Abuse?
Tell-tale signs and symptoms include changes in behavior, physical appearance and general demeanor. Abuse may also manifest itself through depression. Depression may result from certain contributing factors such as having been a victim of physical or financial abuse, having been victimized by a “scam” that has been perpetrated upon them, or when a fraudulent telemarketer has stripped the individual of their savings.
What Can I Do If I Believe Elder Abuse Is Present?
A concerned person, neighbor, friend, or relative does not need to know for sure that the abuse is present, only that abuse is suspected. To report suspected elder abuse, call the Fresno Police Department non-emergency number at 621-7000, or for emergencies call 911. A Police Officer will respond to take the report and begin an investigation.