opportunity to earn continuing education credits helped attract more than 100
nurses, nursing students, social workers, senior advocates and senior service
identified forms of elder abuse and neglect, and discussed the factors that
influence elder abuse.
have around 100 clients that I see, and elder abuse is a big issue,” said
participant Beckly Cline, a registered nurse working for an in-home care company
in Wyoming County.
a lot of elderly people taken advantage of financially, mentally, and we also
see neglect too. People will say they’re taking care of their family member,
but they’re clearly not.”
Nurse Practitioner and Dean of Health Sciences at Mountain State University Karen
Bowling gave a presentation on poly-pharmacy, which is a medical term used when a patient is on more medications than they
need. Bowling says she sees the cause, a lack of health literacy, as a form of
pointed out with an elderly and sick population, West Virginia is at high risk for polypharmacy.
statistics out there that will tell you we lead the nation in the number of
prescriptions prescribed per capita,” said Bowling.
“Now I want
to make sure this is clear, does that mean if you take 4-5 meds there’s a
problem with that? No, it doesn’t. It just means we need to be sensitive,” she said.
“Those people need a clear evaluation of when to take the meds, how they should
take them, and we all have a responsibility to make
sure elders are getting the appropriate medications."
John Hutchinson of the 10th Judicial Circuit in Raleigh County was keynote speaker,
discussing how difficult it is to prosecute elder abuse cases.
of the elderly is very, very under-reported,” said Hutchinson. “And it’s difficult
because they’re often ashamed or afraid they may lose their independence and be
placed in a home so they often won’t testify.”
problem is elder abuse crime is not very glamorous. It is not in the legal
system in the state of West Virginia, I am sorry to say, and I am part
of that system, it is not a priority type prosecution,” he said.
“It is not
something prosecutors look for because they don’t know a lot about it. They
don’t know the crime is being committed and they’re not being reported.”
Hutchinson said financial exploitation is the
fasted growing form of elder abuse. He said along with medical, dental, and
mental health providers, clergy, social workers, law enforcement and senior
housing employees, the list of mandatory reporters of suspected elder abuse now
includes banks and financial institutions.
what happens after probable cause is reported?
Hutchinson obtained information from an
audience member that in Raleigh County alone, there are 130-150 referrals
for elder abuse investigations a month, and that Raleigh County only has 2 Adult Protective Services
He was then
told by another audience member that one Raleigh County Adult Protective
Service staffer was the default guardian for 80 abused elders.
are responsible for making sure that everything is going correctly for billing,
medical care, and all other needs of those patients because they have no one
else, is that correct?”
“I hope you
understand my point. There are nowhere enough resources for this,” said Hutchinson.
judge suggested some help could be found with the State Attorney General’s Senior
Protection Task Force, and with provisions of the of the Uniform Adult
Guardianship Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, the Uniform Powers of
Attorney Act, and the Elder Justice Act of 2009, under President Obama’s
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.