A 70-year-old woman lost her job as a caretaker for a 91-year-old woman after she was arrested on suspicion of abusing her client in an El Cerrito parking lot over the weekend, a police lieutenant said today. At about 3 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a report of a woman striking an elderly woman in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo bank at 9800 San Pablo Ave., according to police.
Police said officers found the elderly victim, a Berkeley resident, sitting with the suspect, a Hercules resident and her caretaker, inside a parked car. Witnesses told officers that the caregiver hit the victim on her head and shoulder and that a shoving match broke out between the two, El Cerrito police Lt. Paul Keith said. The victim was taken to a hospital as a precaution and has since been released.
Keith said officers arrested the suspect, identified as Teresa Sevidal, on suspicion of elder abuse. She has already been replaced with a new caretaker, he said. “It’s a good reminder for families out there looking into caregivers for their loved ones to make sure they’re vetting them and regularly and checking in to make sure it’s going well,” the lieutenant said. “Sometimes, elderly people may not be voicing any problems with the caregiver unless they are asked about it,” he noted.
Investigators believe that, while the abuse appeared to have been sparked by an argument over money, so far there is no evidence that any financial abuse occurred, Keith said. Police are working with the victim and her family to confirm that is the case, he said.
Elder financial abuse is a phenomenon in which scam artists, caretakers or even relatives exploit the elderly in order to access their money, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. That type of crime is a growing problem nationally and in the Bay Area, with its aging population, Keith said. Residents are encouraged to report suspected cases of elder abuse to their local law enforcement agency.
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