By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Saturday June 08, 2013 - 10:51:00 AM

The world is undergoing significant demographic changes. By 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will probably exceed the number of younger people. Research has shown that elderly abuse is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens worldwide. World Health Organization data suggest that 4 to 6 % of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported. 

The United Nations has designated Saturday, June 15, 2013 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Its purpose is to encourage communities to recognize the problem of elderly abuse, and for countries to create policies that foster respect for elders and provide them with the tools to continue to be productive citizens. It also seeks to bring together senior citizens and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how to reduce violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and develop elder friendly policies. I am unaware of any such programs in Berkeley. A free Workshop for Seniors – Staying Safe in Our Community – will be presented by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and Supervisor Wilma Chan, hosted by the Alameda County Library’s Older Adult Services. Speakers include representatives from many law enforcement and protective agencies. Learn how to avoid becoming the victim of elder financial and physical abuse at this important workshop. The program will include tips about how to avoid becoming a victim and, should you become a victim, who to contact and what the process entails. Speakers from the Victim Witness Elder Protection Unit as well as representatives from local law enforcement will appear and share their information and knowledge. Workshop presentation locations throughout the County include Thursday, June 13, 10:00 to 11:30 A.M. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., (510) 526-3720. Hope to see you then and there.  

Elders’ advocates, community centers, and senior centers can, for example, use this day to raise awareness about the silent crisis of elder abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation by hosting discussions and a screening of An Age for Justice. This 2009 short documentary tells the “story” of elder abuse in America. It is also available on YouTube and with new Spanish subtitles.  

In California, elder abuse can be legally defined as mistreatment of an elder (aged 65+) or dependent adult (between the ages 18- 64 with physical or mental limitations) living either within a home or an institution. Common types of abuse are physical abuse (causing pain or injury), psychological (causing mental anguish), sexual (assault or rape), financial (using property or money without consent), abandonment, neglect (lack of reasonable care), abduction (taking the elder out of the state without consent), isolation (purposely preventing communication and contact) and self-neglect (an elder refusing to care for her/himself to the point of harm). Read more about it at California Elder Abuse Laws - Penal Code 368 PC.  

Legal News Articles is an Internet location where cases being litigated as well as potential cases are identified and annotated. For example, at, under the subdivision Elder Care Articles in 2013: “California Chain Cited for Care Center Abuse Twice in Three Years;” “Care Center Abuse Uncovered through Hidden Cameras;” “Disability Center Loses Funding Over Care Center Abuse;” and “Inspections Show Serious Incidences of Care Center Abuse” in California, Missouri, and New York. 

Too many elder physical abuse cases arise from unnoticed and uninformed treatment from health care centers. The Orange County [California] Register reports that the California attorney general has filed a lawsuit against a chain of 5 health care facilities operated by Skilled Healthcare, alleging malnutrition, dehydration and overmedication. Skilled Healthcare operates 20 facilities across the state, with 2,360 beds.  


The May-June 2013 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine has a sweet letter from a Lagunitas, California alum. “…Hospice care allowed her to die at home with a view of her garden and the company of me and our two cats. Hospice could not have done a better job in assisting with her dying…” And there’s more. (page 5, headed The art of dying) 



Thursday, July 11, 2013 is the date of the first Mayoral Forum on Issues Impacting Older New Yorkers. The topic is “The Future of Aging Well in New York City.” The Council of Senior Centers and Services has invited all mayoral candidates, and questions will be taken from the candidates’ questionnaire.  

September 2013 will mark National Senior Center Month. This year's theme is Experts in Living Well. Members of the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) will receive a full toolkit to celebrate. 

September 22, 2013 is the 6th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD). This year's theme is "Preventing Falls--One Step at a Time." 

In the UK, dementia care is being given priority in the new National Health Service training guidelines. In Wales, care of the elderly is to be investigated in a new review launched by the Older People's Commissioner. In Scotland, there is demand for a medical training shake-up to care for elderly.  

California’s 5-page Advance Health Care Directive Form and related information are available online: California Probate Code Section 4700-4701 4700. The form provided in Section 4701 may, but need not, be used to create an advance health care directive. An individual may complete or modify all or any part of the form in Section 4701. Choose a strong healthcare advocate you’ve talked to before filling in your advance directive. Then make 10 packets that include all of these documents and give them to your doctors, family, and best friends. 

A study of states’ rankings of senior health care adequacy is based on 34 measures from government agencies and private research groups, ranging from physical activity levels and obesity to poverty and flu vaccinations. Minnesota ranks first, with Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma at the bottom. Minnesota's top ranking reflects a large number of seniors who report being in very good or excellent health, high rates of creditable drug coverage, relatively high availability of home health care workers, as well as a low rate of seniors at risk of going hungry and a low rates of hospitalization for hip fractures. Hawaii and New England were also tops. California at #25 is in neither the highest nor lowest groups. Florida #30. In bottom-ranked Mississippi, a high percentage of seniors live in poverty and are at risk of going hungry; there is a high rate of premature death; a low percentage of seniors report very good or excellent health and a low rate report annual dental visits. But Mississippi scored well for a low prevalence of chronic drinking and a high rate of flu vaccination. Details in the May 28, 2013 USA Today.