MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) --The Golden Years are being taken away from many of our senior citizens.
As the baby boomer generation ages, the reports of elder abuse are also rising, according to Merced County authorities.
At the Merced Senior Center on Tuesday, the topic of conversation was elder abuse.
"You read about it, and you hear about it," Yvonne Vaughn said.
Vaughn has seen it happen to her dad.
He was befriended by scammers who convinced him to send money to them. At one point, she says, he handed over $11,000.
"It's very, very hard and I hate to see it happening to people," she said.
She opened up because just down the hall Merced County and city leaders were spreading awareness.
"They have to take the first step and say, I'm not going to be a victim anymore," Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse said.
Morse says the abuse can be physical, mental or financial.
In many cases, he says the victims are exploited by their own family members who drain bank accounts, steal social security checks or medication to sell.
There are also victims who can't speak up for themselves, the dependent who are in assisted-living centers or at home.
"Some of these most vulnerable are, literally, hostages in their own homes," Morse said.
According to adult and aging services, this problem is growing with the population of baby boomers - people who were born post World War II.
More cases are being reported, Morse says and they're up 60 percent in the county from 3 years ago.
Still, there are many cases in the shadows.
"For every case reported, five cases are unreported," Morse explained.
The hope is outreach like this will get more people talking and willing to call in any sign of abuse.