By Cristi Dugger, LCSW, Safe Options for Seniors Program
I was fortunate to find my passion for elders and victims of abuse early in my career. It happened when I met Lupe, a woman whose own son, his wife and child moved into her home to assist her and then physically, financially, and emotionally abused her until another family member alerted authorities. Like domestic violence and child abuse, elder abuse is most often committed by family members and in the place we all should feel the safest, at home.
For the past six years I have had the honor of hearing victims’ stories of tragedy and triumph and thankfully-being a part of their transformations. Their strength fuels my passion and commitment to this important and rewarding work. I firmly believe that change can and does happen at every age, and that there is no such thing as “too late” for a person to find peace, safety and healing.
The sad reality of elder abuse
• 1 in 10 seniors will experience abuse after age 65
• 1 in 2 seniors with dementia will experience abuse
• Financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of abuse, but most often occurs in a combination of physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect
• Family members are the most common perpetrators of abuse (depending on the study anywhere from 64%-90% of cases)
• Victims of elder abuse are 3 times more likely to die prematurely
• For the first time in history there are more people over age 65 than under 18
• Elder abuse is a rising epidemic. Orange County Adult Protective Services receives over 700 calls to report suspected abuse each month!
Where can you turn?
If you are worried about an older adult and suspect they might be experiencing abuse by anyone, call Adult Protective Services 877.451.5155. This is a confidential and free resource.
Human Options is the only Orange County nonprofit organization that provides direct and specialized services to victims of late life family violence. Our Safe Options for Seniors program provides individual counseling, support groups and legal advocacy which includes helping the victim apply for a restraining order, accompanying them to court and educating them on their legal rights. We fill a critical gap in assisting victims of late life family violence by meeting them in safe community locations or in their own homes. For urgent issues, use the 24/7 hotline 877.854.3594.
Help Human Options and Get Involved with Ageless Alliance
I have the distinct honor of founding and co-chairing Ageless Alliance with Dr. Kerry Burnight, UCI Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect. Ageless Alliance (www.agelessalliance.org) was created in Orange County to join professionals and community members who are passionate about the issue of elder abuse and seeks to spark a social justice movement. The alliance is based on the belief that elder abuse is a violation of basic human rights of safety, health, and well-being. As a result of our work in Orange County, the National Center on Elder Abuse created a national Ageless Alliance of which Orange County is the founding chapter and is the model for the work being done at the national level.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a yearly event presented by Ageless Alliance Orange County. It is an opportunity to learn more about the elder abuse epidemic, find resources for support, and join in the fight against elder abuse. There are even activities for children!
Event details are below:
Thursday, June 20, 2013
10:00 a.m. to noon
Laguna Woods Clubhouse Three
23822 Avenida Sevilla, Laguna Woods
To RSVP, call the Office on Aging at (800) 510-2020.
Cristi Dugger is a therapist for Human Options-Safe Options for Seniors program providing counseling and victim advocacy to hundreds of clients who have experienced late life family violence. In 2012, Cristi become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Currently, she is the Program Supervisor for the Safe Options for Seniors program.