By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje
December 6, 2012
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services will use a nearly $1 million federal grant to combat elder abuse and neglect, a problem that a recent study says touched about 11 percent of seniors nationwide in 2010.
The $907,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services takes the form of a partnership between Adult Protective Services and the WellMed Charitable Foundation, which will use the money over three years to train staffers in 47 WellMed health clinics across Texas to better identify elder abuse or neglect and develop methods to prevent or stop it.
The money also will provide education materials to seniors at clinics in five Texas locations — San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The WellMed Medical Group provides primary care to more than 40,000 Texas seniors a year across the state.
“This grant will help bring the problem of elder abuse and neglect out of the shadows,” said Joann Tobias-Molina, regional director of Adult Protective Services, the division of the state agency that will implement the grant. “We like to think of the golden years as a time when we're protected, but unfortunately for the victims of elder abuse this isn't so. It's a hidden crime. Victims suffer in silence.”
The grant will pay for two APS specialists to travel to the various clinics to train medical staff — more than 120 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants — starting with 23 clinics in San Antonio.
There were more than 58,000 confirmed cases of elder abuse or neglect in Texas last year, according to TDFPS data. Most involved medical or physical neglect.
For every case of elder abuse that gets reported, five more go unreported, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Last year, there were more than 9,000 reports of possible elder abuse or neglect in Bexar County.
“We know elder abuse is out there,” said Cliff Herberg, first assistant district attorney of Bexar County, who attended a Wednesday news conference that announced the grant. “At some point in our lives, all of us could be potential victims for this crime. And elder abuse and neglect are crimes which are physically, psychologically and financially devastating for the victims.”
The WellMed Charitable Foundation worked with the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and the Elder Justice Coalition in developing the grant.
The foundation was created in 2006 by Dr. George M. Rapier III, who's chairman of the WellMed Medical Group.
Since its creation, the foundation has donated more than $3 million to Texas-based nonprofits, according to a news release.
Click for Updates, More Cases and Resources
Search LABELS for More Resources