Elder Abuse in San Francisco, a Potential Problem for Aging San Franciscians

Between 1946 and 1964, 78 million babies were born in the U.S., creating a surge in population and a demographic bulge not seen before in the U.S. The babies of that generation, known as the baby boomer generation, grew up with rebellious and idealistic attitudes that promised to reshape society and the world. Boomers are expected to live longer than previous generations. By 2030, 20% of Americans will be over 65 and more than 35% will be over 50. Men are expected to live 22 years longer that previous generations, and women are expected to live 25 years longer. Now, as many of the first baby boomers are moving through their 60’s, one question remains: will baby boomers move through their next phase of life with health and vitality, or will they carry it out with the pain and disability associated with degenerative and chronic diseases? Evidence shows that many boomers are healthier both physically and mentally than their parents and are aging more slowly due to better eating habits and more exercise (just drive through Marin on sunny Saturday or Sunday and you will likely see many boomers on race bikes zip past you while you are sitting in traffic). But another scenario is that boomers could place a tremendous demand and burden on medicare, professional care givers, and family members if they become frail and dependent.

Whether at home or nursing home or care facility, potentially all aging persons will be exposed to some sort of abuse or neglect. Often, abuse and neglect of an elder in a nursing home or other type of care facility is profit driven. Even hospice care facilities have the same financial pressures as other elder care facilities and may sometimes neglect to offer a care rather than pay for expensive treatments related to a terminal diagnosis. Caregiver stress is also a risk factor for abuse and neglect. Family members who are thrown into the demands of daily care of an elder can feel frustration and anger. Professionally trained caregivers can experience the same intense frustration and anger as a family member who is not appropriately trained and may use physical force or neglect an elder person as a way of dealing with the situation that they feel they can’t manage.

Sometimes elders are subjected to a different kind of abuse, a malicious type of abuse known as financial abuse and it can range from scams created by salespeople, such as salespeople from drug companies, to misuse of elders funds by a care facility or family member. Financial abuse or exploitation includes taking money under false pretenses or denying an elderly person what is theirs either forced or without the older person’s knowledge. When this happens, it usually goes undiscovered until someone who cares about the older notices an unexplainable bill or funds missing from that persons account. Financial abuse is pervasive in the lives of the elderly because it can go on for long periods undetected or without ever being discovered. A person can die not knowing they were exploited for a profit or cheated by someone they trusted or loved. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we have a seen these kinds of cases first hand and have the experience and knowledge needed to help an abused elderly person or the family of an abused person.