Hi, everyone.

I wonder if you all read the article written by the Register Staff titled, “Two arrested for suspected elder abuse” in the Nov. 22 edition of the Register.

I hope you all did. We need to be on our toes and not always expect good things to come from a friendly gesture. Our generation is very trusting, seeing the good in everyone. We grew up when you trusted a person’s word and a man’s handshake was all that was needed to seal a deal. It was great, but reading this article made me realize that we really have to start questioning when a stranger is extra pleasant to us.

Isn’t that a shame? The facts are clear, however, that at our age, folks are constant victims of scams and are swindled out of a substantial amount of our life’s savings by dishonest people who make their living preying on seniors and the elderly. We need to question, to be suspicious, and to be guarded. There is no free lunch. There are no wonderful give-aways. Protect yourselves and your life savings.

In this article, a 65-year-old man had been befriended by a couple who later moved in with him.

Quoting the article: “They are suspected of mentally and physically assaulting the man as well as threatening him. Police said that the suspects threatened to hurt the victim if he tried to kick them out of the home.”

The couple suspected of elder abuse were each on probation, and one was on parole.

In addition, in this same edition of the Register, there was a story of District Attorney Gary Lieberstein speaking to the staff at Aegis of Napa on elder abuse.

I emailed him to ask for an interview, as elder abuse is alive and well here in our Napa County, and we need to learn all we can in order to protect ourselves.

Lieberstein was very kind, and agreed to an interview the following week.

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Following is the gist of our interview:

I asked Gary if there were more cases of elder abuse and/or scams this year than last year.

He answered that there were certainly an abundance cases of both, but because of our large population of seniors, we do have our share of cases of both.

I asked if he felt we needed more stringent senior abuse laws to punish the offenders. Gary felt the laws were fine, but believes the punishment could be a little more severe. For a felony, time served in jail, five years would be more appropriate than three years.

Back to the article about Gary’s visit to Aegis of Napa:

Periodically, Gary visits assisted-living facilities to remind owners, managers, staff and anyone who is working on the premises and observes or participates in abusing an elder or dependent adult, that, as a “mandated reporter,” it is their duty to report the abuse.

To explain what “mandated reporter” means, let me take a moment to tell you about this exciting new state law (Assembly Bill 40) that went into effect Jan 1, 2015.

If you are an employee, supervisor or administrator at a nursing home, you are now classified as a mandated reporter, which means that if you, have knowledge of the physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, isolation or financial abuse of a resident, you must notify both ombudsman and the law enforcement agency. You are also required to contact local law enforcement by phone and in writing within two hours after learning of or suspecting physical abuse resulting in serious injury, or within 24 hours of a non-injury incident. Failure to report abuse is a misdemeanor under the new law, with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. This is a good law.

Enjoy these wonderful days. If, for some reason, this isn’t a glorious holiday season for you, try to concentrate on just one thing that you are very thankful for.

See you again soon.

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Contact Betty Rhodes at bettyrrhodes@sbcglobal.net