Rose Martin peers skeptically out of her home as detectives come to her door. They weren't looking for criminals this time.
When an elderly or disabled person can no longer manage their finances or care for themselves and they have no family to help them, the County of San Diego's Health and Human Services agency has the ability to appoint a Public Administrator or Public Guardian to help then manage their lives.
The department regularly investigates cases like 67-year-old David, who lives in a low-income apartment complex in La Mesa. David was referred by his mental health provider, because he suffers from anxiety and memory loss, said the county's Jose Alvarez.
During a recent visit to David's home, Alvarez says an investigator with the Public Administrator's office found out that David planned to take his life savings, $100,000, out of the bank, after he received a letter asking him to payoff a $20,000 student loan.
Alvarez says that could turn David into a victim, making him extremely vulnerable to robbery or financial abuse.
A majority of the cases handled by public administrators are given to them by Adult Protective Services, Alvarez said. Financial institutions, concerned family members, neighbors, or friends, who suspect abuse also send possible cases of neglect to them, Alvarez said.
At any given time, the Public Administrator's office handles 175 conserservatees. The program also handles 300 - 400 estates, Alvarez said. He added many of these people died before creating a will or assigning or executor of their estate.
The county asks that if you suspect an adult is being abused or neglected, you call the County's Adult Protective Services at (800) 510-2020. To make a conservatorship referral, call the Public Guardian Office at (858) 694-3500 or report it online at www.papg.org.