Caregivers, seniors discuss elder abuse | SierraSun.com
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Caregivers, seniors discuss elder abuse

Renee Shadforth, Sierra Sun
Renee ShadforthJonelle JerramParker speaks to a group of seniors and caregivers at the Truckee Senior Center last week. During the training, attendees learned about their responsibility to report elder abuse.
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Some are calling it “the crime of the 21st century.”

That crime – elder abuse – was the topic of a training seminar at the Truckee Senior Center last week.

“I think I should know what to look for,” said Jo Pearcy, nutrition director at the Loyalton Senior Center. “If my parents had been in a home, I would have wanted to be able to spot the signs (of elder abuse).”

Many of the people at the training were required to attend for professional reasons – it is mandatory for employees working for Area 4 Agency on Aging-funded programs. However, many of the people at the meeting, like Pearcy, also wanted to learn about elder abuse for personal reasons.

Any caregiver or custodian of an elder (adult over age 65) or dependent adult – paid or unpaid – is responsible for reporting elder abuse, said Jonelle JerramParker, a senior victim advocate with Nevada County Elder Abuse Advocacy and Outreach Program.

According to the House Select Committee on Aging, one of every 20 people over age 65 will be a victim of neglect or abuse in 2003. Elder abuse has been dubbed “the crime of the 21st century” by law enforcement agencies due to the number of baby boomers entering old age in the coming decades. In 2030 the number of people over 65 will represent 22 percent of the population.

“It’s really important that (caregivers) take their responsibility seriously,” said Sallee Allen, the chief deputy public guardian with Adult Protective Services.

The responsibility is so serious, Allen said, that a caregiver’s failure to report elder abuse or neglect within 24 hours of discovery could result in a misdemeanor.

“Reporting responsibilities are individual responsibilities,” she said. “Just reporting abuse to a supervisor is not enough.”

Detecting elder abuse is more than just looking for physical evidence, like bruises. In fact, the most common form of elder abuse in Nevada County is financial, and caregivers are the most common perpetrators, JerramParker said. JerramParker tells senior citizens not to sign anything until they have read it and never to relinquish their power of attorney unless they are certain the custodian will be trustworthy.

Financial abuse is such a serious crime in Nevada County that JerramParker has been involved in training financial institutions on how to detect evidence of elder abuse. In the coming weeks, she will be training bank employees in Truckee.

Other forms of elder abuse include sexual, verbal and physical abuse.

Neglect, both intentional and unintentional, must also be reported by caregivers. Signs of neglect include bed sores, dirty clothes, under- or over-medication and poor oral hygiene.

JerramParker also identified abandonment (or, she said, “granny dumping”) and forced isolation by a caregiver or custodian as punishable offenses.

In addition to teaching the caregivers about their responsibilities, JerramParker spoke to a group of senior citizens and dependent adults about how they can prevent being a victim of abuse.

“I was talking to a friend before this meeting, and she said, ‘Abuse? No one ever hits me,'” said Lucy Greene, a resident at the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments. “They (seniors) don’t know that there’s more abuse than that.”

For additional training on elder abuse, contact Jonelle JerramParker at 470-2770.


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