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Seminar to tackle abuse of elderly

Chayo Reyes believes financial elder abuse is preventable, and that will be one of the key messages delivered at a three day conference starting Wednesday in Nevada City.

“Once a suspect has control over the elderly, they start to isolate them,” said Reyes, a retired Los Angeles police detective who investigated elder-fraud cases.



The trick is breaking the pattern of isolation and looking for “red flags,” said Reyes, one of three speakers at the $100-per person event for police, social workers, prosecutors, caregivers and medical workers.




The conference is sponsored by the Nevada County Elder Abuse Advocacy and Outreach Program, which is part of the Victim/Witness Assistance Center.

Red flags can be found by tracing an elder’s financial patterns, Reyes said. People invest, withdraw, and distribute their money in certain ways, and irregular transactions should sound an alarm.

For sleuths, Reyes said, “We need to find out what that person’s pattern has been, as well as that of the suspect. It explains why they entered certain transactions, and it also develops certain motives.”

Americans age 50 and older have 70 percent of the country’s wealth, Reyes said. In Nevada County, embezzlement and fraud are the leading forms of elder abuse, but county officials also contend with physical abuse and neglect.

From 1997 through 2000, county Adult Protective Services went from 29 active elder-abuse cases to 213. The number of criminal filings was unavailable.

“It’s difficult to know if there’s an actual increase of elder abuse out there, or if there’s just more awareness,” said Jonelle JerramParker, senior advocate for the county outreach program.

Dr. Laura Mosqueda, a University of California at Irvine professor, will address the conference on physical-abuse detection. Bruises and broken bones might occur from falling down, but geriatricians need to get involved with police and lawyers in determining whether abuse is involved.

Paul Greenwood, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, will also speak at the conference at the Nevada City City Hall. He’s testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and has helped draft elder-abuse legislation.

For more information, call JerramParker at 470-2485.


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