City and county officials push for more education about elder abuse during awareness month

SAN ANTONIO – A rise in elder abuse cases is causing concern across the city of San Antonio and Bexar County. That’s why Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda and Probate Court Judge Veronica Vasquez said they’re pushing prevention and education.

“We have a serious problem here,” Vasquez said. “Oftentimes when you see them at their most vulnerable and people do swoop in and take advantage of that.”

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June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The city reported that over the last ten years in Bexar County, Adult Protective Services (APS) saw an increased case intake from 7,969 to 10,404. Vasquez said statistics show our area is near the top of the list in Texas for elder abuse.

“Historically, we’re either No. 1 or No. 2 in elder abuse and exploitation and neglect,” Vasquez said.

Elder abuse is commonly defined as an intentional or neglectful act that causes harm to an older adult by another person. The most common types are physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and abandonment, and sexual abuse.

So, what are the county and city doing to address this?

Vasquez said at the county level, she’s working to apply for grants to help with training and prosecution. She also helps lead the Elder Abuse and Exploitation Task Force.

“I’m hopeful that with the changes that we’re trying to make in Bexar County, that we can be a leader,” Vasquez said.

The county is now also teaming up with the city to help potentially increase the number of reported cases. District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda signed a Council Consideration Request that would look into training all front-facing city employees to recognize the warning signs of elder abuse.

“Those numbers are scary, and they’re high,” Havdra said. “If they see potential abuse, they’re able to identify it, and they’re able to report it.”

This request passed through the Governance Committee and is now awaiting to be put on the agenda for the city’s Public Safety Committee.

To report suspected elder abuse, contact Adult Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.

KSAT is also hosting a Town Hall on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at 2 p.m. to continue the conversation.

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