About 1 in 10 Americans 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. And according to the National Council on Aging, that number is on the rise as the baby boomer population ages.

A Tacoma family says they had a recent a recent experience with elder abuse that has torn their family apart.

“I believe he was neglected to the point where he couldn’t defend himself,” said Angie Santana, whose 81-year-old father, Gilberto Rosario, recently died of cancer.

“My father has been gone from August 29th, and it hurts,” said Juan Santana,

But for Juan Santana and his siblings, what is even more painful is the abuse they say he suffered before his death.

Angie Santana says their sister, Maria Rosario Saavedra, was responsible for taking care of their father Gilberto for about eight months in 2016.

“I don’t live here; my brother works too much, and my other sister didn’t have a place to take him, and she was the only one who had an extra room, and so we trusted her.”

But Angie says her sister started to exploit their father. Angie and her siblings filed several police reports and a police investigation alleges that Maria maxed out credit cards in her father’s name totaling more than $2,000.

“To us, it’s not basically the money. It’s the principle of what you did to him,” said Angie

County leaders say these allegations are common.

“We were seeing an uptick in elder abuse particular in financial elder abuse,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

With more close to $400,000 in funding, Pierce County recently formed a team of agencies to tackle this issue that he says often goes unreported.

“Sometimes victims are embarrassed to report it, and sometimes the people around victims don’t recognize it when they see it,” said Lindquist.

Maria has been charged with Identity Theft and Theft in the second degree. A judge issued a continuance for her case Tuesday in Pierce County Court.

"My thing is people need to know is it’s not okay and that’s all I want. I want justice for my dad,” said Angie.

Related resources:

Signs of Elder Abuse - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention