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ELDER ABUSE IS A CRIME?
Res ipsa loquitur
"Of all the illegal and illicit enterprises in the world, elder exploitation is among the safest and most profitable."
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The Adult Protective Services (APS) program — the unit charged with investigating allegations of elder abuse — has clawed its way out from under a backlog of hundreds of cases. Susan Wehry, commissioner of the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), said her department made two key changes to get the caseload under control — it hired additional investigators and it established a financial exploitation unit.
“The crisis is over. We are stable. We have an ace team of investigators,” Wehry told the House Human Services Committee last week.
But advocates attribute the success in whittling down the backlog to something else. They say APS has grown more conservative when making decisions about what warrants an investigation and what constitutes abuse.
That complaint stems from anecdotal evidence and one striking statistic. Vermont’s substantiation rate — the percentage of cases that are deemed to be actual abuse— remains one of the lowest in the nation. The national average is 44 percent, whereas the Vermont average falls somewhere between 8 percent and 10 percent, according APS calculations.
I’ve found that elder abuse is not a crime, here’s why…
ELDER ABUSE, WHO DIDN’T I TELL?
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.07 defines “abuse of an elder or dependent adult” as either of the following: (a) physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering; or (b) the deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.