SAN ANTONIO — Since 2010, confirmed cases of elder abuse in Bexar County are down nearly 54%. On the surface, it’s encouraging news. But advocates say the number doesn’t tell the whole story: the senior population has grown dramatically yet caseloads have stayed the same. Because of that, there’s a huge concern cases of elder abuse are going unreported.
The new numbers were compiled by the Bexar County Health Collaborative. “Immediately we see this [drop] and we want to take it as a gain,” the nonprofit’s director Elizabeth Lutz says. While it appears strides have been made, she says when you look further into the data the numbers only show the cases being reported. Meanwhile, the community’s established new initiatives to fight elder abuse but not enough funding to reach every senior.
“You see a lot more organizations working together in order to be able to mend the gap in funding that isn’t there,” Lutz says. The Health Collaborative is identifying why some seniors don’t come forward.
“So if it’s your own family – if you’re an older adult and you’re being physically and emotionally or financially abused by your children, you don’t want to report that,” Caroline Bergeron with The Health Collaborative says. Next, she’ll work with seniors to design pamphlets detailing the signs and types of elder abuse.
“They think it needs to be physical with bruises in order for it to qualify as elder abuse. But that’s not the case,” Bergeron says.
If you or someone you love is a victim of elder abuse, call (210) 477-3275 during business hours or 1-800-252-5400, open 24 hours a day, to report the situation.