Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

Speaker at elderly abuse conference says many perpetrators are family members

6-16-2012 Texas:

In a society that promotes "new and improved" as almost synonymous terms, local agencies working with the elderly hope to spread awareness of the value of protecting the older members of their communities.

St. Joseph's Home Health, Inc. teamed up with Adult Protective Services on Thursday to host the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Conference at Midland College for local care providers and service agencies for the elderly.

Texas Adult Protective Services confirmed more than 28,821 cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation involving victims ages 65 and older who live at home last year, according to figures from the Department of Family and Protective Services. Of the total validated cases last year -- not including cases involving self-neglect -- 39.6 percent of the perpetrators were the victim's adult children.

"Very often, unfortunately, the perpetrators tend to be family members," said Tommy Reed, regional director for Adult Protective Services. This adds complication to many cases, as adult victims have the right to refuse services and sometimes choose not to take action against family members.

Self-neglect is a serious but not widely known issue, said St. Joseph's owner Delma Chavez-Diaz, especially among Hispanic families in which grandparents fill in as parent figures when their own children are absent.

"In the Hispanic cultural view, you don't abandon your family," she explained. "But in taking care of their grandchildren, they aren't able to take care of themselves. We see people who have problems walking but yet they're following a toddler around or they feed the children but neglect to take their own medications."

Chavez-Diaz spearheaded the first conference to promote awareness of elder abuse two years ago with the support of local Adult Protective Services personnel. The launch of the local conference coincided with Gov. Rick Perry's proclamation of May as Elder Abuse Prevention Month in 2010. ..For the rest of this story: by Sara Higgins

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