Spotting elder abuse - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Spotting elder abuse

August 22, 2006

Albany -- State officials say abuse of the elderly and disabled is becoming more common in Georgia, and the problem is expected to grow as the population ages. Law enforcement is being trained how to spot elder abuse, and what to do about it. 

 Law enforcement and people who work with the elderly laugh at skits dealing with older people with dementia during their training session, but they know elder abuse is no laughing matter. It is a growing crime in Georgia. Jennifer Hogan said "Not always physically, but sometimes it's verbally or financially. But they are being abused in someway."

 Ombudsman say that elder abuse is one of the most under reported social problems, because only one of 14 abuse cases is ever reported. Lead ombudsman Elaine Wilson said "It's an embarrassment to them. They don't want their family to know they have been taken for large sums of money. They are afraid they will be placed into a nursing home."  

 Police, Firefighters, and workers in protective service agencies are taught warning signs of an abused elder, and who to report to. Ombudsman say officials must be diligent, because two-thirds of the abusers of elderly are family members in a care giving role. Hogan said "It is the spouses, or the adult children who are abusing or exploiting their family member, and that is the unfortunate truth."

 Josh Bentley left his job as a Police Officer to join the Seniors Law Enforcement Council when a relative of his was abused. Now he wants you to help keep watch in your community. Bentley said "Whenever you see abuse, it's ok to call a Police Officer."

 Now Bentley works with law enforcement to fight elder abuse, knowing that this crime will most likely grow with Georgia's aging population.

Division of Aging Services officials say identity theft is the fastest growing crime against the elderly, and that most seniors will not report to Police if they are scammed.

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