Elder Abuse and Neglect—Spotting the warning signs

- It's estimated only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported. The reasons vary.  Victims can't express themselves. Or, because of their age they aren't taken seriously.  But financial, physical, and sexual elder abuse happens far too often.

Harold and Judy DeMoss of Houston are now in the care of a very capable and honest caretaker.  Their son remembers one they had several years ago. The name she used was Leatrice Johnson. She was a thief.

"The weird thing is, she was a really good home health care assistant,” the younger DeMoss explains.

Johnson stole more than $20,000 from the couple, by forging Mr. DeMoss' personal checks.

Turns out she was a career criminal with several aliases and convictions: including, credit card abuse, theft, and welfare fraud.

The agency's background check didn't show any of this because it didn't run her fingerprints.

Mary McFadden, Assistant Harris County District Attorney Mary McFaden says requiring fingerprints can help stop this sort of thing.

"A finger print check would have pulled up her whole criminal history and would have made her ineligible."

Families can request a finger print check, but the job applicant can decline.

Once a caretaker is hired, it's then up to the families to stay involved. Mc Faden outlines some red flags to watch out for.  The first is isolation.

"When we see an elder being isolated by a family member or caretaker, then that tells us that there's something that the perpetrator doesn't want us to know," McFaden said.

Another is when the elder suddenly changes their wishes:

"Why is the family house now being left to one child as opposed to what the elder had previously wanted which was to leave it to all of them," McFaden said.

Texas is a Mandatory Reporting State. If you see or suspect any type of elder abuse you are required, by law to report it.  

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