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July 4, 2009

Panel Focuses on the Dangers of Elder Abuse (CA. USA)

Panel focuses on the dangers of elder abuse

By Michelle Knight

knight@theacorn.com

Esperanza Boggs, 89, lost everything after her son, David Boggs, 51, set fire to their Camarillo home and killed himself on June 11.

Described by his mother as armed and dangerous, David Boggs had been under investigation for alleged elder abuse, accused of holding his mother a virtual hostage for years in their home and embezzling $211,000 from her.

He set the home ablaze shortly after Ventura County deputies arrived at the mobile home to serve him with court papers to move out.

Esperanza Boggs' story, although more extreme than most, is familiar to social workers who deal with the increasing problem of elder abuse in Ventura County.

To help protect the county's growing senior population, a panel of experts recently addressed how the elderly can protect themselves from abuse, financial and otherwise, during a discussion at the Goebel Senior Center in Thousand Oaks.

Marcy Snider, coordinator of Ventura County Human Services Agency's adult protective services, said her agency received 2,100 referrals of elder abuse last year.

"This year, we'll easily surpass that," Snider said.

Social workers with adult protective services investigate neglect or abuse and connect elderly victims to resources in the community. The statemandated program is voluntary, free of charge and available to those 65 and older.

Many referrals to the agency involve caregivers not taking proper care of their elderly charges, Snider said. But financial abuse of seniors has become the No. 1 complaint in the past four months, she said.

Snider described an elderly woman in the East County who was lonely and befriended by a salesperson over the phone. Eventually the salesperson scammed her out of $50,000. Scam artists have duped money from retired teachers, lawyers and other well-educated professionals.

Family members and friends have also taken advantage of the elderly, Snider said. Caregivers have bought groceries for the senior but also for themselves and have filled up their gasoline tank on the senior's credit card. The elderly person may have poor eyesight and not notice the extra charges on the statement. A friend or family member may steal blank checks from the bottom of the senior's checkbook so they won't be missed right away.

To report elder or dependent adult abuse, call the 24-hour hotline at (805) 654-3200.

To talk to Pollara, call (805) 654-2505.

Abridged

SOURCE: Camarillo Acorn - Camarillo,CA,USA


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