First, Ruth* is not allowed to have visitors; then her phone is cut off so she can’t call friends or family; then the grocery money disappears. This story has a happy ending, but unfortunately there are many Ruths in our community who don’t get a second chance.
Elder abuse can be as subtle as it is tragic. Before Ruth’s condition became dangerous for her, the caregiver had begun to manipulate the situation in subtle ways by isolating Ruth from friends and family, and neglecting basic responsibilities. Ruth suffers from congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. A stroke left her partially paralyzed and she is dependent on a walker. The 66-year old’s caregiver was hired to help her with her activities of daily living (ADLs) including bathing, cooking, cleaning, and incontinent care. None of that was happening.
The Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse (CREA) Care Coordinator’s notes describe a harrowing scenario: “Caregiver would often not allow client to have visitors, including her home health nurse. Caregiver was not providing any care and client would be left in her own waste. Caregiver would not prepare meals and the client would be hungry. It was reported that client was often verbally and physically abused by her caregiver…”
By the time CREA got involved, Ruth had been subjected to the three types of abuse that most often get reported to the Family Safety Center: neglect, financial exploitation, and physical abuse. When the CREA Care Coordinator intervened, she helped Ruth find long-term placement in a care home. Ruth also changed the representative assigned to help her manage her Social Security benefits so now she knows her money is being used for her care and her living expenses. She even has a new phone! Thankfully, Ruth is happy and doing very well, thanks to the concerned neighbor who stepped forward to share her suspicions about Ruth’s situation.
The law requires that you report concerns about elder abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS) in Tennessee. Call 888-APS-TENN to investigate allegations.
*not real name