Resources for Victims of Elderly Abuse
With the sixth largest population of residents over 65 in the state, it’s not surprising that Nevada County sees roughly 30 cases of elderly abuse each year.
“Overwhelmingly, the problems of senior abuse in our county involves financial abuse,” said Jonelle Jerramparker, a senior victim advocate with the Nevada County Victim/Witness Assistance Center. “In the last year, we’ve only had three or four cases involving physical abuse or neglect of a senior.”
Incidents of financial abuse typically involves money being stolen or taken from seniors under false pretenses, misappropriation of funds by a caretaker, or investment scams that take advantage of vulnerable seniors.
Regardless, the effects can be devastated for those living on fixed incomes.
Jerramparker is trying to spread the word that there are places for abused and neglected seniors in the Truckee area to get help.
The California Victim-Witness Assistance Program is a statewide effort to provide crime victims and witnesses with emotional support during the aftermath of crime, and guidance through the maze of the criminal justice system, which Jerramparker said can be “extremely overwhelming to those who are unfamiliar with how it works.”
Her division specializes in victims that are senior citizens, as well as dependent adults or those who are between the ages of 18 and 64 and are unable to take care of themselves due to physical and/or mental disabilities.
Some of the services that the Victim/Witness Assistance Program provides includes: restitution assistance, property recovery, employer/creditor intervention, orientation to the criminal justice system, referral counseling, emergency assistance and crisis intervention. All services are confidential and free of charge.
Jerramparker also does community outreach and education, both at senior centers and for local law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating these crimes.
“We’re really hoping to develop more of a presence here in Truckee where there have been numerous incidents of such abuse over the past few years,” she said. “We hope that the more people know about this problem, the more cases will be reported.”
Jerramparker said a majority of cases go unreported because seniors were raised in an era when problems were to be kept a secret.
“They come from a time when you weren’t supposed to air your dirty laundry with the public, so to speak,” she said. “Especially if it is a relative that is committing the abusive acts, there’s often a lot of shame for seniors that goes along with that situation.”
Jerramparker also blamed the generation gap as being the reason seniors are so vulnerable to abuse, particularly of a financial nature.
“Seniors are from a time when you took care of your own, and man’s word was something that was taken extremely seriously,” she said.
Typical victims of abuse are elderly women over 75 or recently widowed men over 60.
Typical abusers are relatives or non-related caregivers, usually male, which are between the ages 30 and 50. They may also have a history of drug and alcohol abuse and are frequently unemployed.
“In Nevada County, more abusers are caregivers rather than relatives, though,” Jerramparker said.
In the end, she said it’s everyone’s responsibility to be the gatekeepers for seniors.
“I just want to encourage seniors to ask questions and reach out for help because there are people out there who want to help them,” she said. “We’ve really just got to look out for one another.”
For more information or to report an incidence of abuse, please contact one of the following:
Adult Protective Services (APS) at 265-1639
Nevada County Victim/Witness Assistance Center at 470-2485
Nevada County Sheriff’s Department at 582-7838
Truckee Police Department at 550-2323.