Category Archives: Elder Abuse

How You Can Help Stop Elder Abuse in 3 Easy Steps

Would you know if your aging parent, spouse, grandparent was a victim of elder abuse? Maybe. Maybe not.

Elder abuse takes many forms, some more obvious than others. Physical elder abuse may cause bruises and injuries. Bedsores and poor hygiene and malnutrition are common signs of elder neglect — when a caregiver ignores a dependent elderly person’s health and personal care, safety, or emotional needs.

But other types of elderly abuse can be much more difficult to uncover. Financial elderly abuse — when a caregiver steals money, credit, and property by exploiting an elderly person’s vulnerability and dependency — can go undetected or unreported for months and years.

And there are far too many older adults trapped in a silent hell of repeated sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. Sometimes it’s because they are isolated and unable to get help. Sometimes it’s because they suffer from dementia. An elderly victim of abuse may not even know they are being abused — or their calls for help are dismissed as paranoia, confusion, or fantasy.

Sometimes the shame or fear of pointing the finger at a family member keeps victims of elderly abuse silent. Spouses, adult children, grandchildren, and other trusted relatives are often the perpetrators in cases of elderly abuse.

But the sad truth is that most cases of elder abuse still go unreported. Which is why June has been designated “Elder Abuse Awareness Month” — and June 15th is Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Across the nation, health and human services agencies are holding seminars and events to explain what elder abuse is — and how to stop it.

But all the media attention in the world won’t keep your aging parents or loved ones safe from elder abuse… if you don’t do your part.

Here are three easy steps you can take right now to help stop elder abuse:

1. Click here for an excellent fact sheet about elder abuse from the National Center on Elder Abuse. It covers the basics: What is elder abuse? Warning signs. Who is at risk? What to do. It won’t take more than a few minutes.

2. Send this post to a couple of friends or family members.

3. Ask them to do the same.

That’s it. Told you it was easy.

Of course, if you want to do more, the NCEA has no shortage of suggestions about how you can join the fight against elder abuse.

But the most important thing you can do to help keep your aging parents or loved ones safe from elder abuse is to help spread the word — even if it’s just a couple people at a time.

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New Mexico Doctors to Screen for Financial Elder Abuse

Doctors in New Mexico will soon be asked to help screen elderly patients for signs of financial elder abuse. The initiative, which is being promoted by the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department’s Securities division, is modeled after a similar program that debuted in Texas…

A spokeswoman…said it’s important to involve doctors because they’re able to diagnose patients who have mild cognitive impairment and therefore might be susceptible to investment scams. Doctors also have the trust of their patients, she said.

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Financial elder abuse detection and prevention training is planned for this summer via continuing medical education programs. But participation is voluntary, and reporting suspected financial elder abuse will not be mandatory.

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Nursing Home Administrator Arrested for Financial Elder Abuse

It’s not surprising that older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s are prime targets for elder abuse and financial elder abuse. Predatory caregivers are betting that any claims of abuse by a person with dementia are likely to be ignored or dismissed.

That’s the reason no one believed a financial elder abuse victim in Georgia when he told family members someone at the nursing home was stealing his money…

In the end, the family learned that he was telling the truth – that the administrator of an Athens area nursing home was taking his money, and his brother’s…… ”My uncle with Alzheimer’s had said someone was stealing his money all along, but we just brushed it off because we thought it was just in his mind.”

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Turns out that the perpetrator wasn’t some lower-level nursing aid. It was the administrator of the Winterville Retirement Center, Sherrye Dianne Huff, who was arrested and charged with five felony counts.

Apparently, Huff’s alleged crimes are part of an epidemic of abuse at the Winterville, Ga., long-term care facility. Not only is Huff accused of stealing money from other residents. Another employee was recently charged with punching an Alzheimer’s patient in the face. Still another employee is accused of stealing a patient’s meds. All of these incidents occurred within a 3 month time period.

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New Elder Abuse and Neglect Low: Caregiver Takes Victim’s Wheelchair

A Rhode Island caregiver is accused of elder abuse, neglect, and financial elder abuse against her wheelchair-bound 75-year old victim. This case is a contender for the “Predatory Caregiver Hall of Shame.”

Tracy Anderson of Narragansett, RI, is facing felony charges for committing a variety of abusive acts against the elderly woman she was supposed to care for. Anderson’s “low lights” include:

  • Not showing up to work: Anderson was hired though an agency to provide 40 hours of care a week. Instead the victim claims she came about two days a week for 10 minutes at a time.
  • Neglecting to care for her elderly client: The victim was not bathed for two weeks!
  • Coercing the victim to give up her ATM access codes, social security number, and bank account information.
  • Convincing her victim to change her $14,000 life insurance policy to make Anderson the beneficiary.

But those offenses pale in comparison to Anderson’s ultimate act of cruelty…

Because of a stroke, the victim relied heavily on a wheelchair to move. In the eight months she cared for the victim, Anderson allegedly removed the wheelchair from the residence and removed the handicapped placard. While the victim struggled to move around the home, Anderson changed the locks on the front door.

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Why did Anderson’s victim give her access to her financial accounts? According to the police statement “she feared Anderson would stop caring for her she did not.” This is a classic perpetrator/victim dynamic in elder abuse cases.

Worth noting: Anderson was placed at the victim’s home by a professional home care agency. And yes, they run background checks on all their employees. The agency also claims that registered nurses make unannounced visits to all clients. A lot of good that did the victim. According to reports, it was a third party who reported suspected abuse to the police.

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Elder Abuse Victims Often Reluctant to Get Help

Even though awareness of elder abuse continues to increase, there is still a huge gap between the number of older Americans who suffer elder abuse and the number of cases that are actually reported. Of course, it’s not hard to guess a key reason for this discrepancy…

…elder abuse is most often perpetrated by a trusted family member or caregiver. That makes the victim reluctant to seek help. Often, they fear an investigation will lead to more abuse. ”A lot of times when I go out to talk to an alleged victim, they’re really downplaying it…Nothing they want to talk about, or nothing they want anything done about.”

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For every case of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation that is reported, the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates there are about five more cases that are not reported. And the Senate Special Committee on Aging estimates that as many as 5 million older Americans may be victims of elder abuse every year!

What can you do to stop elder abuse? For concise information on the types of elder abuse, warning signs of elder abuse, how to prevent elder abuse, and what to do if you suspect elder abuse, check out this free factsheet from the National Center on Elder Abuse.

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