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Riverside County advocates call for more resources to support older adults
Leaders in California’s fourth ‘grayest’ county highlight priorities and future needs
RIVERSIDE, Calif.— Policy leaders and senior advocates this week called for collaboration, increased planning, and additional resources to ensure Riverside County’s rapidly aging population can thrive in healthy and supportive communities.
“As service providers, we must pull together and continue the discussion with the state about how to appropriately fund programs for our aging residents,” said Sayori Baldwin, director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), and assistant county executive officer over Human Services.
One in five of the county’s 2.5 million residents is age 60 or older, a population that’s expected to double in coming decades. Experts say a growing number of older adults are at risk of falling into poverty and poor health due to increasing housing, energy, and food costs, especially those older adults who are living just above the poverty line where they might not qualify for services.
Baldwin joined medical, law enforcement, and other experts at the 2022 Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Symposium on June 1, where they highlighted the economic and social challenges confronting seniors and their families. They emphasized the need for seamless access to all services and for community partners to collectively focus on meeting the needs of the aging population.
“We’re living longer and that means our older population needs continued support,” said Fifth District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. “Our county agencies and partners are increasing their efficiency to maintain and improve the quality of life for our senior communities.”
Abuse of at-risk adults includes exploitation, neglect, self-neglect, physical and mental abuse. At least one in 10 Americans over age 60 will experience some form of abuse during their lifetime and the risk increases with age and conditions such as dementia.
Thanks to a new state law that took effect this year, social workers can reach out to adults 60 and older. Previously, Adult Protective Services could not step in to help an elder who might be experiencing abuse or neglect until they were at least 65.
“This change means we’re able to intervene five years sooner. We believe earlier intervention leads to safer outcomes,” said Todd Bellanca, assistant director of Adult Services at DPSS.
Report suspected adult abuse or neglect to the 24-hour Riverside County Adult Protective Services hotline at 1-800-491-7123.
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