San Antonio doctor describes warning signs of elder abuse as reported cases rise across Bexar County

Dr. Leo Lopez III with University Health said Bexar County leads state for reported elder abuse cases

SAN ANTONIO – One in 10 adults who are age 65 or older are expected to experience elder abuse each year across the United States, according to the Department of Justice.

“We all have a role to play, to protect our older adults right here in our community,” Dr. Leo Lopez III, a medical director at University Health, said. “The numbers that we see are unacceptable.”

Lopez said Bexar County leads the state for reported elder abuse cases and suggests more cases that go unreported. June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

Elder abuse is commonly defined as an intentional or neglectful act that causes harm to an older adult by another person. Lopez said people of all ages can watch for warning signs.

“They might have some actual physical signs, such as scratches, scars or burns,” Lopez said. “They might appear more disheveled, more isolated, dehydrated and underfed.”

Laura Mata-Delgado, the director of client experience at the nonprofit Family Service, said those signs might be hard to spot because elder abuse can come in many different forms.

“Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and even financial exploitation,” Mata-Delgado said. “Any one of those would be considered any form of abuse.”

Lopez said the best way to target elder abuse concerns is to be on the lookout.

“Give them a call, check in on them and plan to spend some time to be part of their life, as well,” Lopez said.

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

KSAT is also hosting a Town Hall at 2 p.m. Thursday to continue the conversation.

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About the Authors

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

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