Sad: Elder abuse comes in many forms
Sometimes the abuse of self-inflicted and courts must become involved.
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Mention the term “elder abuse” and thoughts turn to physical violence.
Often, though, it is senior citizens themselves who self-inflict the abuse.
“(Maybe) their families have moved off, they suffer isolation, and have health issues,” said Summers Bell, a Department of Human Resources supervisor.
When that happens, DHR sometimes petition courts to intervene.
“It is sad because, often, family members are not in the courtroom (for hearings) because they don’t care to participate,” said Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport.
Increased life expectancy is making abuse problems worse.
June 15 has been proclaimed Elder Abuse Awareness Day but, in Houston County, Davenport declared the entire month should focus on senior safety.
He read a lengthy proclamation Tuesday as those involved in the process looked on.
Among them was Dothan Police Lieutenant Scott Owens who is too familiar with criminal abuse.
Recently, his investigators charged John D. Moore with bilking his 83-year old mother-in-law out of at least $200,000.
Had Alabama not enhanced its laws, Moore might not have been charged.
“I can remember in 2007 when I started my law enforcement career there were only a few laws. Now, the elements (needed for prosecution) are easier than they are for other crimes,” Owens told News 4.
This year, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill that allows banks and credit union to delay transactions when they suspect financial abuse of customers.
Signs that could indicate an elderly person has been abused include:
- Injuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Mal-nourishment or extreme weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Anxiety, depression, or confusion
- Unexplained spending
- Withdrawal from family members or friends
Nearly 10,000 Alabama seniors are abused each year.
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