– By JUSTON LEWIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent cases of elder abuse might shed light on an expanding crime in Newnan.
Elder abuse is also called elder mistreatment and refers to the act, or failure to act, by caregivers or another person in a relationship with older adults.
Owner and CEO of Home Helpers of Georgia and Alabama, Beth Dow, has worked with the elderly for more than 10 years. She has noticed that elder abuse is a recurring offense in many caregiver relationships. “I report to adult protective services about every other month,” Dow said on how often she sees cases of elder abuse.
The abuse comes in the form of neglect or financial abuse in most cases, according to Dow. The caregiver will use, and in some cases, live off of the elder's money.
In cases where the elder can do very little for themselves, the caregiver will go hours without checking in with the elder. Leaving the elder without food or making sure they properly use the restroom can also be categorized as neglect.
There are other styles of abuse such as: sexual, physical and emotional which are all punishable by arrest.
There are warning signs and ways to prevent elder abuse. According to the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, changes in behavior or emotional state can serve as warning signs.
The refusal of the caregiver to allow visits with the elder is a possible warning sign along with comments about being mistreated by the elder.
Joy Shirley, director of the Three Rivers Agency on Aging, says she notices the developing problem and feels that elder abuse is growing.
The state of Georgia has taken steps as recently as March to help prevent elder abuse, adding $766,000 for additional Adult Protective Service workers who investigate abuse of the elderly and disabled.
According to Dow, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent elder abuse but none is greater than speaking up if you see wrong.
“(You) just have to let someone know,” Dow said. “(You) don't have to prove it, just report it.”
Jimmy Richard Hendrix, 51, was arrested Monday and charged with elder abuse of his 89-year-old mother. According to police, Hendrix's mother was reportedly left alone in her home for several days at a time, although she needs daily care. She reportedly was left at times without money, even though she has a retirement income.
The Georgia Department of Community Health is investigating an injury suffered by Edna Warren, a 98-year-old nursing home resident in Newnan. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Hakim Ogunkunle, 43, an employee with Newnan Health and Rehabilitation.
Newnan Health and Rehabilitation had reported to local law enforcement that Warren, 98, had suffered a broken leg after physical contact with the certified nursing assistant. The GBI said its investigation revealed that Ogunkunle intentionally caused Warren's injury.
Warren was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery, but died during the procedure, according to police.