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.
In Sacramento, the operator of an elder-care facility is
currently facing felony charges after the death of a resident.
The owner of Super Home Care, Silvia Cata, was arrested
and charged with felony charges of elder abuse and involuntary manslaughter
regarding the death of a woman in her care.
The resident, Georgia Holzmeister, was 88. She had
dementia and received care at Super Home Care since 2007. She died from severe
bedsores which resulted in sepsis, a toxic response to bacteria or germs. While
bedsores can be difficult to avoid entirely, the emergency room doctor who
treated her later told investigators that Holzmeister’s bedsores were typed
Stage 4, among the worst he had ever witnessed.
“This is believed to be the first time California’s
Department of Justice has filed manslaughter charges against an elder-care
caregiver regarding resident care,” stated Palo Alto elder
California has rarely pursued criminal prosecution of
elder care workers. Allegations of elder abuse and neglect are typically
handled in civil court. Cata faces get as much as 12 years in prison if
convicted. Two additional allegations are that the victim suffered “great
bodily injury” and the abuse she suffered caused her death. An involuntary
manslaughter conviction carries a maximum of four years. Cata is currently in
the Sacramento County Jail, in lieu of $300,000 bail.
Cata, her spouse and her adult daughter were listed as
Holzmeister’s caregivers. Cata has been licensed in California to operate a
residential elder care facility since 1996. Though she is licensed to care for
as many as six individuals, she stated that she usually cares for two or three
residents. Previously, Cata was cited by state licensing officials for
dispensing over-the-counter medication without medical orders, poor record
keeping, and caring for a resident who was found to need a higher level of
skilled nursing care. Holzmeister’s family paid between $2,000 and $2,800
monthly for her care.
Individuals who suspectelder abuseor neglect can speak with
an elder law attorney to pursue any concerns. It is not necessary to have proof
of neglect or abuse; anyone with any concern that there may be abuse is
encouraged to file a complaint so that an investigation can begin.
British Columbia today launched a strategy outlining short- and long-term measures to prevent, recognize and respond to elder abuse in British Columbia.
"Protecting seniors from all forms of abuse is a priority for myself and for our government," said Minister of State for Seniors Ralph Sultan, "With this collaborative strategy, we hope to bring about a positive change where all British Columbians are involved in protecting seniors from abuse and creating a culture where older adults are respected in every way."
Elder abuse may be physical or sexual, psychological or emotional, or financial. It can be at the hands of a spouse, an adult child or other family member, a caregiver, a service provider, or other person in a position of trust or situation of dependency. Abuse can take place in a senior's home, a care facility and in the community.
Actions outlined in the strategy entitled Together to Reduce Elder Abuse - B.C.'s Strategy include:
•Expanding the Seniors Abuse and Information Line. Longer hours will make it easier for people to get information, advice, emotional support and assistance with respect to elder abuse by calling 604 437-1940 or toll free 1 866-437-1940.
•Providing information kits to help community groups, front-line service providers and individuals recognize elder abuse and encourage individuals to have the confidence to speak out or to ask for assistance.
•Establishing a multi-sector Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, responsible for galvanizing society to commit to taking action to prevent elder abuse.
•The council will be supported by an office, located within the Seniors' Directorate in the Ministry of Health that will also be responsible for co-ordinating implementation of the strategy across government.
•Reviewing processes and staff training for informed consent to care, including moving into a residential care facility and use of restraints, to ensure that the rights of vulnerable adults are protected.
•Supporting training and awareness-building initiatives for health professionals and others to improve their ability to recognize abuse and to take appropriate action.
Areas for work on longer term actions are identified in the strategy and will be prioritized as the initial phases of the strategy are evaluated and renewed.
"Elder abuse is, unfortunately, happening all across Canada," said Martha Jane Lewis, executive director, BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support. "Together to Reduce Elder Abuse - B.C.'s Strategy will provide extra supports for those who need help and create a culture change to help make elder abuse a thing of the past."
The total cost committed to specifically supporting the strategy is just under $1 million. This funding includes $850,000 funded through the Provincial Health Services Authority to support the Seniors Abuse and Information Line, $100,000 for information kits and $37,500 to the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly to support an elder abuse prevalence study.
The B.C. government last year provided $1.4 million to the BC Association of Community Response Networks. This investment provided extra support for prevention and education activities, in collaboration with local stakeholders, to reduce elder abuse and neglect in B.C. There is currently Community Response Network activity in over 70 communities around the province and the number is growing.
"This collaborative strategy supports grassroots efforts to help educate, prevent and ultimately end elder abuse," said Sherry Baker, executive director of the BC Association of Community Response Networks. "The BC Community Response Network applauds the provincial government's commitment to make B.C. communities safer for their most vulnerable."
Developing a strategy to prevent, identify and respond to elder abuse is a commitment in Improving Care for BC Seniors: An Action Plan and also supports B.C.'s 10-year mental health and substance use plan, Healthy Minds, Healthy People. It was also part of B.C.'s Family Agenda and was emphasized in the 2013 throne speech. Protecting vulnerable seniors from elder abuse is a key component of B.C.'s Family Agenda for British Columbia. To learn more, visit: www.familiesfirstbc.ca For more information on preventing elder abuse and Together to Reduce Elder Abuse - B.C.'s Strategy, please visit: www.seniorsbc.ca/elderabuse
February 14, 2013 by Cara Kenien, LMSW, MPA, Social Media Manager, NYCEAC
New York Nonprofit Press recently featured Hidden in Plain Sight: The Elder Abuse Crisis, an article written by Bobbie Sackman, Donna Dougherty andKen Onaitis, all of whom are NYC Elder Abuse Center partners. The authors provide an overview of the prevalence of elder abuse, present reasons why elder abuse remains unrecognized and under-reported, outline future direction for the elder justice field.
The article provides an overview of the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, which was conducted in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College’s Division of Geriatrics, Lifespan and the NYC Department for the Aging and involved interviewing 4,000 older adults. This study reveals staggering numbers of older New Yorkers – 260,000 each year – who have confronted abuse, neglect and exploitation, with many suffering in silence.
The authors highlight the types of elder abuse – physical, financial, sexual, emotional and verbal – and note that elder financial abuse is currently the most prevalent form of elder abuse in New York State. Older adults have experienced situations in which they have been forced or tricked into giving their cash, social security benefits, savings or homes to their abusers. Given that we know older adults are facing painful situations and so many have suffered from abuse, the authors pose the following question: “How is it that so few of us recognize the widespread abuse to which so many of our elders are subjected?” Reasons elder abuse remains under recognized & under-reported
•Financial abuse can be difficult for friends, neighbors, or family members to recognize.
•Elder abuse can be difficult to detect.
•Ageism often leads others to disregard what an older adult is saying.
•Elders rarely report their abuse and neglect.
Further details about each of the above can be found in the article. Future Directions Identified by the Authors
1. Foster an acknowledgment and heightened awareness among the general public that elder abuse is a real and widespread problem that affects victims and their families.
2. Continue building partnerships with the domestic violence community to address elder abuse issues and share expertise.
3. Mobilize a “community watch” that observes, identifies and reports potential cases of elder abuse for investigation by trained professionals.
4. Break down the legal and institutional barriers that prevent elders from seeking or getting help.
5. Advocate for an allocation of the necessary resources to address this serious and widespread problem. Locally, the Bloomberg administration must baseline the $800,000 allocation which currently funds all elder abuse prevention work by local nonprofit agencies in NYC.
Click here to read the entire article.
This week the elderly were recognized in a special International Day of Older Persons.
The occasion in Fiji was recognised by a gathering organised by the Fiji Council of Social Services.
But it seems not everone reveres our older citizens - a survey conducted by FCOSS claims that many senior citizens in the country are abused. Presenter: Geraldine Coutts Speaker: Hassan Khan, FCOSS Executive Director
KHAN: The focus of his discussion is largely the overall view of the situation of elderly and the different types of services that are available through government and civil society organisations and highlighted also the Fiji National Policy of Ageing and Elderly which was one of the actions that FCOSS promoted three years ago and asked our advocacy and our submission of the first draft of this policy. It has now been approved by the Cabinet and we also celebrated the first anniversary of the establishment of the National Policy on Ageing in Fiji, which is now a government document.
COUTTS: Now moving on to I suppose what could be deemed the challenges of an ageing population in this 21st Century and the need to promote and develop the society of all ages and the security that older people need. But you conducted a survey and you came across some challenges of your own that some elderly citizens are being abused?
KHAN: Yes. I think from what we heard from the older persons in various districts of Fiji, these were largely focus group discussions of people that were more or less randomly picked or they just came along, they heard about it. Their voices were that one of the main complaints was that their difficulties, challenges they face is financial, because those who have got some kind of pension, they're pension value is much less now because of the rising cost of things and the other thing is that all the pensioners on the Fiji National Provident Fund suffered cutback between 15 to 20 per cent and that reduced the capacity to buy their medicines, etc. for other things, so that's the main issue. The other one was the health issue, the access to health and their poor health conditions etc and the availability of healthcare and the cost of medicine etc. and for them to care for their own health is also seriously compromised because of this reduction of the pension.
The third thing that has come up and this is a hidden reality in Fiji, the scale of elder abuse that is happening. In fact they termed the reduction in their pension as elder abuse, they termed the inaccessibility or that they cannot afford the medicine as also a type of elder abuse. There are a number of elderly who have their allowances or their family assistance allowances they're getting is less and also a lot of them have been abruptly cut off because of the review by the World Bank and the poverty situation in Fiji and need by the authorities that they needed to trim down the number of people, while they accept the fact that there are people who may be abusing, but this was also a case. So the abuse of elderly is in various forms like psychological and emotional abuse, there is physical abuse, neglect and abandonment, cases of sexual abuse, economic or financial, robbery, theft, all these things come in. Most of this abuse are hidden, because the elderly are in such a situation where large, a number of this abuse is done within the cultural and family context and they have no other place to go. So if somebody complains about it, we have to be very careful what we complain about etc. and do we have the capacity to look after them is the issue I think, all the civil society organisations and other government agencies are mindful of that and this is why everyone is prodding very gently and but time has now come to openly acknowledge the fact that there is abuse and that we need to do something about it, education and other things. So that is the situation we are in now.
COUTTS: And the abuse because the rate of the elderly is increasing, the populations getting older, but is there also a statement of the fiscal constraints on families now that they actually can't afford to look after their families extended members of the family anymore, because of the poverty that's increasing in Fiji?
KHAN: Exactly, there are cases where the old is looking after the very old. People in their late 50s or in 60s now looking after their parents or grandparents in 80s or late 80s. So with almost 10 per cent of the population 800,000 elderly. This includes 55 plus because government's retiring age is 55 and the president himself said with that reality of retirement at 55, he says it would safely to conclude that everybody over 55 is in the category of elderly and he put that figure at 10 per cent. This was between 10 and 11 per cent more.
COUTTS: Is that a policy Mr Khan that needs to change, does the retirement age need to be raised?
KHAN: Well, we have been Council of Social Services is the only organisation that says that there should be no retirement age. People should work as long as they want to work and as long as they are physically and mentally fit to work. But that change, we cannot see any change at the moment. But in the national policy, there is a clause that says that people should work as long as possible, but we are taking that on point and point out to them that you have it on the document that you've approved, but each organisation or government it's up to them when they retire people. But people don't want to have retirement age, but this is something that we have to live with.
This is why they have called for a social pension, because everybody in Fiji pays 15 per cent tax, that is the value added tax, VAT. So on that basis, the elderly, because those were an FNP Pension that has been reduced by 15 to 20 per cent so plus 30 per cent of their money is already out, so that is the stage. This is why they have called for a social pension, universal social pension like the ones in Samoa and Cook Islands where they get $500 per month. Everybody who turns 60 gets that and we feel that the same should be given in Fiji. Furthermore, everybody in the rural areas and the farmers, they have had no pensions, they have not been on FNPF. There have been no other support for them. They are completely without any financial support in all this. For them, they've called for $1,000 a month pension, social pension, and this is something that we have been proposing to the government for the last two years in the budget. Nothing has happened, but we hope that a start would be hopefully made for 2013 in the 2013 budget.
Seniors at Risk is a resource for seniors and their loved ones dealing with over-medication of seniors, elder abuse in institutions, denial of legal rights to seniors and other challenging aspects of aging that seniors are facing in today's society.
The Seniors at Risk website is a gathering place for those who are fighting lonely battles for respect, justice and goodwill, often against bureaucracies or other powerful societal organizations and groups.
You are welcome here. We will listen, we will understand, and we will help.
Institutions ‘named and shamed’ for elder abuse – a last resort of ombudsman, media
March 1, 2013
Canadian banks and financial companies mistreat seniors and ignore laws, abetted by a negligent government
The growing epidemic of institutional elder abuse is not limited to nursing homes, hospitals and health authorities. The banking industry also appears to be mistreating and taking advantage of seniors. Banks?! Yes, banks.
Most senior citizens are customers, many are long-time and very loyal customers of the banking institutions they patronize, and all are citizens of Canada. It is their hard earned money that has made Canadian banks what they are today. Yet, our elders are frequently being treated with callous disrespect.
We are concerned with the evidence that banks and financial institutions are imposing their own rules, over and above the law of the land, ignoring legal documents such as power of attorney papers drawn up by lawyers, and creating desperate circumstances for seniors. Here are three stories that surfaced in the media recently, perhaps the tip of a very chilling iceberg.
•A Royal Bank (RBC) branch in Vancouver refused to cash the pension cheques of a 94-year-old disabled and housebound woman for seven months. This bank ignored the Power of Attorney granted by their customer to her daughter. The daughter tried in vain to persuade the bank to relent but they would not budge… until she called the media. Then, three bank staff suddenly found their feet and made a visit to the elderly woman’s house to confirm the power of attorney (something that was not necessary to do in the first place, but presumably was done so the bank could save face).
“I took the power of attorney papers in. They were photocopied and sent to the [RBC] head office in Toronto,” said (daughter Linda) Graham. “Those were turned down as well because they weren’t explicit enough.” CBC, Go Public
•Staff at a Toronto Scotiabank branch reportedly refused to accept the power of attorney of a dying woman (featured in same CBC story, 2nd incident). The bank insisted that she, not her designated POA, come to the branch in person. When her family drove her to the bank branch, they asked staff to come out to the parking lot to meet with the 73-year-old woman who was weeks away from dying of cancer and unable to be transported anywhere easily. The family got a “flat-out refusal” from bank staff. Her family was forced to wheel the ailing woman, swollen with painful lymphoma, into the bank on a commode chair. All this, while the bank rejected the Power of Attorney document that had been properly executed by the woman’s lawyer. Scotiabank refused to comment, citing privacy – even though the woman was by then deceased.
•And, in a rare move, an Ombudsman publicly ‘named and shamed’ W.H. Stuart & Associates, a mutual fund dealer, for refusing to abide by a ruling that the firm pay $41,066 to an 82-year-old couple for failing to inform them of the real, and risky, nature of their investment, and for the loss of their life savings due to the firm’s mismanagement.
Which ombudsman you may ask? One you may never have heard of, but which might, one day, save your bacon (and your nest egg) – the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. “OBSI has taken several significant and extraordinary steps to resolve this and certain other complaints that could not be resolved before we’ve resorted to announcing a refusal to compensate.”
The OBSI is Canada’s national independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses that have a complaint they can’t resolve with their banking services or investment firm. It operates as a free alternative to the prohibitively expensive legal system.