The Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force, chaired by Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds with the help of many volunteers, is helping to bring awareness of elder abuse to the public.
For every one case of elder abuse that comes to the attention of a responsible entity, another 23 cases never come to light, according to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study.
Beginning in 2012, Baby Boomers began turning age 65 at a rate of one every ten seconds or 10,000 per day.
Georgia has the 11th fastest-growing population of people age 60 plus.
By 2030, one in five will be over the age of 60.
Elder abuse is any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult, taking place in many forms or a combination of those listed below:
Physical Abuse/Domestic Violence: the nonaccidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain or impairment such as being slapped, burned, cut, bruised or improperly physically restrained.
Deprivation of Essential Services: the willful deprivation of social, medical, psychiatric or legal services such as the provision of medical or psychiatric care, assistance in personal hygiene, deprivation of food, clothing or adequately heated and ventilated shelter or protections from health and safety hazards in general.
Sexual Abuse: nonconsensual sexual contact of any kind such as forcing sexual contact or forcing sex with a third party.
Emotional Abuse: willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, intimidation or other abusive conduct such as frightening or isolating an adult.
Financial Exploitation: illegal or improper use of an adult's funds, property or resources by another individual such as fraud, false pretenses, embezzlement, conspiracy, forgery, falsifying records, coerced property transfers or denial of access to assets.
Neglect: the willful deprivation of health care, shelter or necessary sustenance to the extent that an older person's health or well-being is jeopardized - as defined by Georgia law.
Also, it is a crime to threaten, intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person cooperating with an elder abuse investigation, including the potential victim.
Elder abuse generally involves an ongoing relationship with an expectation of trust with power and control dynamics often present.
Several indicators of possible elder abuse are:
- Shows unexplained or sudden changes in behavior
- Is afraid to speak in the presence of the offender
- Is isolated
- Signs of being restrained
- Infections, pain or bleeding in genital areas
- Under- or over-medicated
- Left in feces and/or urine
- Important possessions, documents or credit cards are missing
- Provides conflicting explanations about the older adult's injuries
- Isolates the older adult
- Controls and dominates the older adult
- Portrays self as the victim or the only caring person in the older adult's life
- May be charming and helpful toward professionals
- Strong odors of urine and/or feces
- Lack of food
- Locks on outside of doors to keep older individual in a room
- Damage to home caused by abusive behavior
Two common forms of elder abuse are neglect and financial exploitation.
Neglect is the failure to provide adequate or necessary care to a dependent person by a caregiver and may be the result of inaction or poor caregiving by caregivers who do not have the necessary resources, skills or support.
The criminal violation of neglect applies to a guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control or custody of a disabled adult, elder person or resident as in a senior care facility.
Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult's funds, property or assets, including such assets as cash, gold and other jewelry, antiques and their home.
The term "exploit" means illegally or improperly using a disabled adult's or elder person's resources through undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation, false pretense or other similar means for one's own or another person's profit or advantage, according to Georgia law.
Most often, financial exploitation is perpetrated by a trusted individual or family member - perhaps through a power of attorney or guardianship.
The power of attorney is an instrument which delegates to another person authority to make health care and/or financial decisions for the disabled or elder adult.
The guardianship is a court order, granting certain powers to a family member, other individual, governmental agency or institution to control the affairs of another person.
Neither the power of attorney nor the guardianship gives the appointed party unlimited access to the account(s) of the named person.
The funds must be used to benefit that person.
Numerous resources are available to assist or report suspected abuse of a disabled person or an elder adult:
- Adult Protective Services at 404-657-5258 or toll free at 1-866-55-AGING (24464), option 3
- YWCA of Northwest Georgia's 24-hour crisis line at 770-427-3390
- Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-33-HAVEN (42836) with a Spanish language option
- Center for Pan-Asian Community Services at 770-936-0969
- Raksha (serving the South Asian community) at 404-842-0725 or toll-free at 1-866-725-7423
- Caminar Latino at 404-413-6348
- Cobb District Attorney's Office, Victim/Witness Unit at 770-528-3047
- Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force's Anonymous Tip Line at 770-794-6990
- Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force at https://www.facebook.com/cobbeatf/timeline
- Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force public service announcement at https://youtu.be/QUXVgSOQyP0
- Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force Forum for 90 minutes on April 21, 2015 at https://youtu.be/CM5x07TQ95k
- Ahimsa House for assistance with pets at 404-452-6248
- United 4 Safety for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersexed (LGBTQI) survivors at 404-688-2524 ext. 112
- Cobb Senior Services at 770-528-5355
Also this FBI website contains a list of common fraud schemes perpetrated against senior citizens at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors