Q: What is considered elder abuse and, if suspected, who can help?

A: Elder abuse is a growing concern and can be inflected in numerous ways. It can be actual physical, emotional or financial abuse or it can be a result of neglect or abandonment. It can also be self-abuse.

Physical abuse is any pain or injury inflicted by a person in charge of care or in a position of trust. It is probably the easiest abuse to recognize.

Emotional abuse is willful infliction of mental suffering.

Financial abuse is any theft or misuse of an elder’s assets by a person in a position of trust. Detection is sometimes made difficult by the way an elder has elected to hold title to his or her assets.

Neglect can result from failure of a caregiver to provide reasonable personal hygiene care, medical care or protection from health and safety hazards.

Abandonment is considered the desertion of an elder by someone responsible for the care and custody of a senior when the senior cannot manage for him or herself.

Self-abuse occurs when the senior can no longer take care of himself or herself.

Suspicion of any type of elder abuse should be reported. Adult Protective Services can be reached at 654-3200. If the elder is residing in a long-term care facility the contact is the Long Term Care Ombudsman at 656-1986.

Q: I am 80 and still driving my own car. A friend of mine recently was the victim of a carjacking and I am wondering what I can do to reduce my chances of becoming a victim. Do you have any common-sense suggestions?

A: Carjacking is a crime all drivers need to think about. Many assume it is only a big-city problem, but unfortunately it can and does happen in the suburbs.

I’ve talked to several people about your question and have the following suggestions. First, take precautions before you ever take to the road. Proper maintenance of your vehicle is a must. Next, make sure you have sufficient gas in the tank. These simple tasks will help eliminate the need to stop in unplanned and possibly unsafe areas. Plan your route in advance as much as possible.

Once on the road, concentration is important. Don’t let yourself be distracted. If you lose your focus on the road and surroundings you could become an easy target. Be cautious of where you stop. Whenever possible select well-lit and well-traveled areas.

Drive defensively. Use the middle lane when possible. Don’t allow yourself to be pinned in. If you must stop leave enough space between cars to allow yourself to pull away if necessary. Always lock your car doors even when inside and drive with your windows closed.

When returning to a parked automobile, always check both front and back seats before entering. Remember the old warning to never pick up a hitchhiker; it is still good advice today.


July 11: 10th Annual Butterfly Remembrance Ceremony, 9:30 a.m. at Triunfo Community Park, Triunfo Canyon Road (at Tamarack Street) in Westlake Village. RSVP to Buena Vista Hospice Care at 777-1133.

July 15: “Emergencies Are Never Planned — Will You Be Ready?” seminar, 1:30-3 p.m. at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. For information call the Advocate’s office at 495-6250.

July 19: History Comes Alive presentation “Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum,” 2 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $5 and available at the Goebel Center.

July 22: Transit workshop, 12:30 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Call 381-2744 for reservations. Seating is limited.

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