HERMISTON, OR - Elder abuse is reaching higher levels than ever before across the nation.
The Department of Social and Health Services says this is because of the number of baby boomers now retiring, meaning more possible victims.
Adult Protective Services received more than 60,000 reports of different types of elder abuse in 2018. This is a sharp increase from the 48,000 reports they received in 2017.
Adult abuse can come in many forms including neglect, financial, physical, and mental abuse.
"Right now the fastest form of elder abuse in the state of Washington is financial exploitation," says Chris Wright, DSHS Spokesperson.
In the case of Steve Steele and his former caregiver Elizabeth Avila, Steve alleges Elizabeth manipulated him into signing over two pieces of property, while Elizabeth claims Steve did all this because he was grateful he was being looked after.
Steve claims Elizabeth left him isolated and took away his means for contact with the outside world.
Elizabeth says these claims are simply not true, saying all she ever did was help make his life better, but now these allegations have ruined her life.
Elizabeth is currently facing two counts of felony aggravated theft in the first degree and four counts of criminal mistreatment.
These are the signs to look for if you think an elder is being abused:
If someone has a change in behavior, if they are usually outgoing but then suddenly begin isolating themselves, if they are making sudden large withdrawals, or if they missing or canceling appointments. The most important thing to do if you suspect elder abuse is report it.
If you suspect someone you know is suffering from elder abuse you can report the case anonymously to APS by going online to www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/reportadultabuse or calling 1-866-END-HARM.