I don’t want to ruin your New Year but there is something we need to discuss. This is a repeat column from 2016 but unfortunately it bears repeating in these days where senior abuse is as prevalent as it is.
I can never write about this topic without recalling what happened to my own mother right here in middle Georgia several years ago. Two teenage boys came to her door. When she answered, they pushed in the door, ripped the phone lines from the walls, demanded her purse, threw her in the bathtub and stole her car. When mom finally came to her senses she was able to walk next door to Granny Ellis’s house where they called the police. Fortunately, through effective police work, the perpetrators were arrested in just a few weeks, tried, convicted and sent to jail within a few months. We are blessed with a relatively peaceful community here in middle Georgia, but we’re not immune to violence and abuse toward seniors.
Who commits these heinous crimes?
Strangely enough, adult children are some of the most common perpetrators of family violence against seniors, followed by current or previous spouses. Some time ago at Visiting Angels®, we took on a new client who was homeless because her grown son scammed her out of her metro Atlanta home using a refinance tactic and then her daughter left her without transportation when she made off with her mom’s car. Imagine being left destitute like that by your own children! Unfortunately, “relationship crimes” are more common than you would think
The Tip of the Iceberg
All the reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year are only the tip of the iceberg; according to data from different states, for every case of elder abuse reported, another 12 or 13 are not. Why? Several reasons, including:
•fear of being sent to a nursing home
•fear of reprisal
•lack of awareness about what help is available and where to go for help
•shame of having raised an abusive child
•fear of not being believed
•nowhere to go
•fear of being denied access to grandchildren
•fear of being rejected by family
•intense family loyalty
What to do if you suspect….
Senior abuse in your circle of friends? First of all, be alert to ANY suspicious activity, behavior, or comments that involve the seniors in your life. Don’t be naïve. Remember, what the Bible says in Jeremiah 17: 9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
States differ on who is required to report suspected elder abuse. According to Adult Protective Services in Georgia, mandated reporters in Georgia include: medical personnel including physicians, interns, residents and others; osteopaths; dentists; psychologists; chiropractors; podiatrists; pharmacists; physical therapists; occupational therapists; licensed professionals and counselors; nursing personnel; social work personnel; day care personnel; coroner; medical examiner; employees of a public or private agency engaged in professional health-related services to elder persons or disabled adults; employees of a financial institution, and law enforcement personnel.
How to report suspected elder abuse? Of course, if it’s an emergency, dial 911. Otherwise, if you suspect something you can report anonymously at http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/adult-protective-services. I’m sure you won’t remember that website but a little Googling will get you there where you can report online or by phone.
Let’s vow to keep our vulnerable seniors as safe as we can in 2019.
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org