Empowering Seniors with relevant Information on Elder Abuse.
"Elder Abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person”. (WHO)
Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty, through the courts.
An estimated 2.4 million people nationwide work while taking
care of their elderly family members, and roughly 100,000 are said to leave
their jobs each year when doing both becomes impossible. Ensuring there are
enough nursing care workers — who are in increasing demand with the rapid aging
of the Japanese population — will be important not only for those who require
care but also for the sake of reducing the number of people who give up work to
care of their ailing family members.
According to a 2012 internal affairs ministry survey,
roughly 487,000 people left their jobs over the preceding five years to care
for family members, and only 123,000 of them have since been able to find new
jobs. Women accounted for about 80 percent of the total — an indication that
the burden of caring for aging relatives continues to fall heavily on women
even after the introduction of the public nursing care insurance system. The
number of such people is said to be particularly high among workers in their
Ahead of the government’s triennial review of the
publicly-set rates on nursing care services, the Finance Ministry has urged
that the rates — which translate into the amount of compensation for the
operators of care businesses — be reduced by 6 percent in fiscal 2015. If
approved, it will mark the first cut since 2006. Reduced rates would enable
cuts to nursing care insurance premiums and to contributions of tax money to
It would take some nerve to report an abusive family member to law enforcement. We also know from the National Center on Elder Abuse that most abusers are family members. And they tell us that only 44 out of 1000 instances of abuse are reported to authorities. Why aren’t more cases reported to the very authorities capable of stopping the abusers?
Elder abuse in the Tri-State
3.5-6 million cases of elder abuse reported each year in the U.S.
By Sheree Paolello
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio
Every day in the Tri-State, many parents and grandparents are being abused by the people they trust the most. It's as common as child abuse, but we rarely hear about it.
WLWT has a look at the problem, why it goes undetected and how you can help stop it.
Charlotte Miller never imagined her father, Douglas Smith was being abused. He was 80 years old and lived in Fairfield with Charlotte's mother. But the last few years of his life he was distant and quiet.
"When you're threatened that bad, you don't want anybody to know. Every time we brought it up, he would say, ‘It's none of your business, I'll take care of it,’" Miller told WLWT News 5's Sheree Paolello.
Miller watched her dad sell his home, his boat, everything. He even took on a job after retirement.
Finally, on Nov. 1, 2006, the secret was exposed.
Miller's nephew Joey Feltner beat and kicked Smith at a storage unit in Fairfield for almost an hour.
Smith was able to drive home but he died a few days later.
Miller was stunned and heartbroken. The man who took her in, fostered her and adopted her, was beaten to death by another family member. What was worse, this abuse had been going on for years.
Miller said Feltner started off extorting her father for money, but when he wouldn't pay up or couldn't pay, Feltner would hurt him.
Miller's mother admitted to investigators that for years, Feltner would come into their bedroom in the middle of the night and punch her father in the face, just to scare him.
"It got to the point where he had nothing else to give. And when he didn't have anything else to give, Joey beat him to death and threw him away like a scrap piece paper," Miller said.
Smith is one of countless elderly people physically abused by someone they trust.
Ann Sutton Burke, the director of Aging and Caregiver Services for Jewish Family Service, said the problem is that most cases go unreported.
"People want to make it on their own. They don't want to bother other people," Burke said.
There are anywhere from 3.5 million to 6 million cases of elder abuse reported each year in the U.S.
Of the 300 senior case files Burke sees a year, 10 to 20 percent of those cases involve abuse.
"Elder abuse is a crisis in this country that people aren't aware is a crisis," Burke said.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser sees elder abuse so frequently, he's set up a task force and a hot line for people to report abuse.
Every month, he travels around to senior centers and nursing homes hoping to save one more person from physical and/or financial abuse.
"These criminals are sociopaths. They would steal their mother’s last nickel -- and what makes it unique is not only would they steal their mother's last nickel, they'd blame the mother for giving it to them," Gmoser said.
Burke said sadly, like in the case of Douglas Smith, most victims never come forward.
The victims would rather stay in the abusive situation they know than go to a situation they don't know.
They're embarrassed, ashamed and afraid of losing their independence. Or in some cases, the victims have health issues such as dementia, so they aren't sure what's really going on.
Burke said to look for warning signs like significant changes. Emotional or physical changes are red flags.
Miller said even when your parent or loved one denies something is wrong, go with your gut -- investigate.
She only wishes she had. It's been eight years since Charlotte lost her father but time has not healed her wounds.
"Really there's not pain there, there's more anger, I mean rage of anger. It'll never go away," Smith said.
Feltner was convicted of murder and abduction and is serving 15 years to life in prison.
To report a elder abuse in Butler County, call 1-888-662-3673. To report abuse in any area of the Tri-State call Jewish Family Service at 513-469-1188. For more information on warning signs: www.jfscinti.org
It's something many of us have seen; our aging family members facing financial scams. The Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention has implemented a new program called SeniorSafe to help protect financial accounts, end exploitation and identity theft.
Experts explained the research about who is scamming the elderly are usually family members. SeniorSafe is being launched state-wide in all Maine banks and credit unions.
86-year-old Patrick McDonough is a World War 2 veteran and he said he received a scam through a letter staying he won money from the Team of Mega Millions.
"I know about scams and I've been watching them. The thing that fooled me most was that check. They sent that check that I could use, but I didn't think and I went to talk to the people in the office," he said.
Smartly instead of mailing the check he took it to his retirement community's front office. The folks at Sunbury Village checked into it and discovered it was all a hoax to steal McDonough's financial information.
Officals at Maine Savings said they get three to five calls a week about elderly financial scams.
With elder exploitation already a problem in a state rich with seniors, a proposed bill that may make it easier to prosecute cases is making its way through legislative committees.
House Bill 409 proposes to modify existing laws to create a "presumption of exploitation" when someone takes advantage of an elderly or disabled victim. It also would provide criminal penalties for joint holders of a senior or disabled person's bank account who take money for their personal use.
Gainesville attorney Shannon Miller, who specializes in elder law, is part of a panel of lawyers, legislators and others from across Florida who developed the bill.
"When it comes to getting these criminal cases prosecuted we have literally beat our heads against the wall. Before this year we had no prosecutions in Alachua County on elder exploitation cases. None. Not a single prosecution," Miller said. "The problem the prosecutors have had is the statutes are really hard. You have to prove deception and intimidation. This legislation that is pending is literally groundbreaking."
Area prosecutors are mixed on whether proposed changes would help. Eighth Circuit State Attorney Bill Cervone, in Gainesville, believes they would, while Fifth Circuit Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson, in Ocala, is skeptical. Simpson heads the special prosecutions unit.
The presumption of exploitation would apply when someone is not a family number, has known the victim fewer than two years and a transfer of assets occurred. The victim must be disabled or more than 60 years old.
Miller said no other state has such a presumption.
Cervone said a presumption of exploitation would make it easier to prosecute cases.
More abused old folk seek help ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Elderly victims of abuse are increasingly seeking help in South Canterbury.
A growing number of the region's elderly residents are calling on the Elder Abuse and Protection Services at Family Works. This happens particularly after they have suffered financial or psychological abuse.
However, the increase was not necessarily an indication that the problem was growing, elder protection co-ordinator Geeta Muralidharan said.
Instead, she said the increase was possibly because of greater awareness.
"The increase in publicity around this problem has raised the awareness of the community, which has resulted in more referrals being received from a variety of sources, including family members, [the] South Canterbury District Health Board, rest homes, community services and self-referrals."
The increase in self-referrals had been particularly noticeable, Mrs Muralidharan said.
Financial and psychological abuse were the primary problems being reported.
"Financial abuse is 39 per cent of all referrals received and psychological abuse [is] 37 per cent."
Mrs Muralidharan works with about 50 significant cases of abuse each year.
She said "active neglect" by a person's partner was another growing trend.
"The majority of cases referred to this service are by family members who realised something is not quite right in the lives of their parents.
"In some of these cases, earlier reporting of these concerns would have prevented the loss of money, savings and property.
"Generally, the victims of such financial abuse are older people who live alone or have limited family and community support, which can be a lifestyle choice for some."
Of the cases reported, 10 per cent of the victims had no support from family or services in the community, Mrs Muralidharan said.
"It is often the case that the victims of elder abuse and neglect are anxious, have trust issues and are resistant to disclosing information, especially if the abuse has been perpetrated by a family member.
"We have a number of cases every year where an older person has been severely abused financially and emotionally by their adult son or daughter. The consequences of this level of abuse on the older person resulted in them living in fear and isolation, with self-neglect and deep mistrust of people in general."
She said it was important for people to report cases of abuse, no matter what their relationship was to the victim.
"Let's say no to elder abuse and neglect. Let's value and respect older people. As a community this is all of our responsibility."
By ANDY MILLER
GEORGIA HEALTH NEWS
February 18, 2014
A Georgia House panel on Monday approved a bill that would toughen penalties for operating an unlicensed personal care home, raising a first offense to a felony from a misdemeanor.
The vote came after compelling testimony from Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who described to the House Health and Human Services Committee two cases of abuse in unlicensed Cobb County homes.
In one case, Flynn said, a woman in her 50s with dementia was kept in a garage in a “sweltering hot” home and was deprived of food and medicine.
The owner in that case, after a plea bargain, was given just a one-day sentence, with credit for time served, Flynn said.
“That really got our attention,” he said.
In a second case, Flynn testified about a Cobb woman accused of physically abusing elderly patients who police say were living in squalor at an unlicensed Marietta adult care home.
“We called it a house of horrors,” he said.
The woman has denied the abuse charges.
Unlicensed personal care homes have been a problem in Georgia for years. Many of the residents are frail seniors and are unable to defend themselves from abuse.
Morris News Services reported last year that the number of reported complaints of physical, mental and financial abuse of Georgia’s elderly rose 65 percent between 2008 and 2012.
And the National Center for Elder Abuse estimates that more than 80 percent of instances of abuse, neglect and exploitation go unreported.
“We’re seeing a lot of this,” said Brad Smith, a district attorney for a circuit that includes Jackson and Barrow counties. “There’s a lot of (unlicensed homes) out there.”
Authorities raided Alzheimer’s Care of Commerce in July following allegations that staff there assaulted, restrained and over-medicated patients. The center, which employed convicted felons, is also under investigation for the possibility that some deaths were homicides.
The owner and 20 employees were arrested following the raid.
Georgia Health News (georgiahealthnews.com) is an independent news organization devoted to covering health care in the state.
By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director Northeast CONTACT
Feb. 16, 2014
A family member moved in to help an ailing 75-year-old Penobscot County woman with housework. After just two days there, she persuaded the older woman to sign the home over to her, saying this would help if the woman needed long-term care. Three months later, an eviction notice came.
In Androscoggin County, a woman convinced her 78-year-old mother that it was time to sell her house and move in with her daughter and the daughter’s husband. The couple promised to look after her medical and financial needs. Soon afterward, in the heat of summer, the woman moved her elderly mother into a camper trailer in the couple’s backyard. More than two years, the couple spent all her money and left her homeless and unqualified for Mainecare. Her health declined to the point that she needed nursing home care.
These two examples of the financial abuse of older Mainers are repeated, not just daily but many times every day. In these two cases, the victims complained to Legal Services for the Elderly, and that group’s intervention helped to ease the impact. But thousands more cases are reported every year, and many more cases go unreported.
The Bangor Daily News reported last week on a new effort to head off elder financial abuse. The initiative, called Senior$afe, aims to train employees of banks and credit unions to spot signs of financial abuse at the teller’s window, drive-through or other places where relatives or others might make transactions that are not in the best interest of the account holder.
Financial abuse can happen when a senior gives power of attorney to a family member, friend or other trusted person. That power can be abused when it’s used to take advantage of the senior’s credit, secure their property or the proceeds of sales, and even threaten harm if seniors don’t hand over cash.
The Senior$afe program will provide training to front-line employees to watch for unusual activity, such as a series of checks written to one person or large cash withdrawals. Officials say 200 people have been trained and would share their new knowledge with others at their workplaces.
For example, if a suspected victim comes into a bank or credit union alone and asks to make a large cash withdrawal, the employee might try to engage the senior in casual conversation. If someone else is with the senior, the employee might instead refer the matter to authorities who could begin an investigation.
Senior$afe is spearheaded by the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, Maine Bankers Association, Maine Credit Union League, the Maine departments of Professional and Financial Regulation and Health and Human Services, and Legal Services for the Elderly. Training is also planned for financial institution managers, who might refer troubling matters to authorities.
Jaye Martin is executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly and a member of the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention. She says Senior$afe is the first program of its kind in the country. Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the council, said the effort will help.
“Giving front line bank and credit union personnel the tools to identify suspected elder abuse will help protect Maine’s seniors before the financial damage becomes too great,” Shaw says. If you suspect that a senior is being abused, financially or otherwise, you can call Maine Adult Protective Services at www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging or call 1-800-624-8404.
Preventing abuse and neglect of elderly
February 18, 2014
The moral strength of any society can be measured by the quality of care it gives to children and the elderly. Maltese society has traditionally treasured family values, and the concept of the extended family that often includes parents and grandparents who remain in close contact with younger generations is well established.
It may therefore shock some people to hear a social worker practising in the community say that “elderly abuse is on the increase”. This appears to be borne out by figures on the number of cases reported to the police. Studies by the World Health Organisation suggest that “between four and six per cent of elderly people have experienced some form of abuse in the home”. Even worse, the World Health Organisation states that “36 per cent of nursing-home staff reported having witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year”.
It is a sad reality that abuse of the elderly “happens to people of all ethnicities and income levels and can be physical, sexual or emotional in nature”. One could also add that neglect and financial exploitation are other facets of this problem afflicting our society.
Maria Camilleri, who is involved in the Maltese Association for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, believes that “laws are needed to halt the increase in elderly abuse”. Good preventive laws are undoubtedly important. But those who are conscious of the severity of this problem argue that enacting laws is just a first small step in the battle against abuse of the elderly.
As with any other problem, one needs to understand the root cause in order to come up with effective solutions. A number of different situations seem to put the elderly at risk of physical and psychological violence.
Strained family relations are often exacerbated by stress and frustration as family members try to cope with the difficulties of modern living and the increasing dependence of elderly relatives for support. This problem is accentuated if the younger relatives of an elderly person they are caring for are dependent on his or her financial support to get by.
Social isolation is another important risk factor for an older person. As people get older and become physically or mentally weaker, they are often abandoned by their younger relatives and eventually by their own friends. This makes them easy prey for those who are constantly looking for ways of exploiting the vulnerable in society.
The erosion of the close family bonds that existed between different generations of the same family, as well as the increase in the number of elderly people, are factors that could see the problem of abuse of the elderly becoming even more serious.
But one needs to look beyond good legislation to prevent this problem becoming more threatening to the wellbeing of our society. The WHO urges governments to use “existing health and social services networks to provide legal, psychological and financial support as well as help with housing and other environmental issues” to support the elderly. This is a very important element in the strategy for active aging which has now been defined but still needs substantial political support and will to be implemented.
The medical profession too has a part to play. Family doctors need to look for the symptoms of abuse when they treat the elderly in their homes of clinics.
Most importantly, public education and awareness are important elements in preventing the abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable elderly people.
Elder abuse: Not a topic that’s easy to detect or deal with. But, an aging population means the topic is something that will become more and more of a serious concern across America.
“As more older adults become very old (beyond 85) we see the numbers of cases increase, and some of the debate about whether the actual incidence of elder abuse is increasing is because we know that elder abuse is under-reported,” said Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported 40.3 million, or 13 percent of the total population, is age 65 and older. By 2050, that age bracket is expected to comprise 20 percent of the total U.S. population. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people aged 85 or older.
“The fastest growing segment of our population is those over 85,” said Midland County Senior Services (MCSS) Director Alan Brown.
The American Community Survey, published by the U.S. Census Bureau, stated that the 85+ population in Midland County was 1.4 percent, in 2000, dipped to 1 percent in 2005, and then grew to 1.9 percent in 2012.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) states that as many as 2 million senior citizens are being abused. With approximately 90 percent of those abusers being family members, the NCEA defines elder abuse as: “The intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm. Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of the following types of mistreatment that are committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship (for example, a spouse, sibling, child, friend or caregiver).”
“The most common form of elder abuse is psychological abuse, and financial abuse (5 percent per year prevalence rate) is second,” stated Lichtenberg. “In many cases the older adult is suffering from significant dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) or is extremely frail and needs a lot of physical care. The abusers often live with the older adult, and many times have some financial dependence on the older adult.”
Joe Blewett, director at Pinecrest Farms, is also noticing more abuse on a nation-wide level.
“When you say, ‘abuse,’ it will most likely be in the form of neglect, which is abuse,” he said. “As the baby boomer population gets up there, people are staying in their homes longer and living longer. And they don’t necessarily know resources that are out there. I think we’re going to see it grow, unfortunately. But, then there are places like Pinecrest and (The Arc of Midland) that are great resources in the community to look out for that.”
Alzheimer’s can be another significant factor in elder abuse.