Being Abused? Know Someone Who is? Get Help.

Most of us haven’t heard about this. It’s Elder Abuse and it’s a major problem here in America. You may be surprised by how frequently it occurs.

1 in Every 10 Adults 60 Years of Age and Older is a Victim of Elder Abuse

1 out of every 10 people during what is supposed to be their golden years is subject to abuse. Are you shocked? I know I was.

There are many different types of abuse. Here are some of the most common:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial Abuse

While men are abused, . . .

. . .Most Frequently the Victims are Women

A high number of victims are those who don’t have any family members living near them.  Common targets are also disabled people and people with Dementia including Alzheimer’s.

Abuse can happen almost anywhere. Some of the more common places:

  • At Home
  •  At a neighbor’s or friend’s home
  •  At an Assisted Living Facility, or Nursing Home
  •  In Public

Most frequently, the perpetrator is a family member. However, some of the other abusers are friends, health caregivers, home health aides, financial advisers, other professionals and strangers.

Sadly, Knoxville and Knox County Are Not Exempt

Older people are being abused right here. This is happening every day.

City and county officials have been aware of it for some time and worked with the Office on Aging to start a new program in 2018. This is the Rise Above Crime program and its objective is to help victims of abuse.

Shortly after that program started, I wrote a blog post about it and the services being offered. You can read that post by clicking here.

A Tremendous Amount of Work is Being Done by the People in the Rise Above Crime Program

I think you will be startled by the amount of work the manager and the case workers in the Rise Above Crime unit have done. I know I was.

In the less than three years from August of 2018 to June of 2021, they have worked with over 330 victims of elder abuse. Here are some of the ways they have helped these people:

  • They have listened to the complaints these people have had and offered them support.
  • They have investigated every case and helped get the abuse stopped and the situation corrected.
  • When they could not do everything themselves, they enlisted other agencies in the community to help. While this was being done, they followed up closely to make sure the people being helped were satisfied.
  • They drove their clients to appointments and supported them emotionally before, during and after these meetings.
  • At times they had to get law enforcement and the courts involved. Here again they accompanied the people to those meetings.
  • They have conducted periodic welfare checks to make sure the people were doing ok and the abuse was not continuing.
  • When necessary, they assisted law enforcement people and prosecutors in gathering information to get abusers convicted of the abuse they were perpetrating.
  • They even moved people into motels for short periods in emergency situations.

June’s Case Stands Out

In June of 2020, a lady contacted their office. To protect her identity, we’ll call her June. June told them her caregiver was stealing from her.

This caregiver was not a family member or friend. She came from a Home Health Care agency.

June told the case worker in the Rise Above Crime unit her caregiver was taking money out of her bank account right after her monthly Social Security Benefit was deposited.

She also was stealing some of June’s medication. It later came to light this woman had a Substance Use Disorder and was selling June’s medication to support her habit.   The caregiver was also emotionally and physically abuse with her.

Part of the cost for June’s home health care was being paid by the Tennessee Choices program. Her caseworker at Rise Above Crime worked with her representative in the Choices program to try to get the caregiver fired and to allow the woman to get a caregiver from a different Home Health Care Agency.

Needless to say, the Home Health Care Agency for which the caregiver worked sided with her. They insisted there was no way what June was saying happened. They wanted June to allow her caregiver to continue to work with her.

June never wanted to ruffle any feathers. She just hoped to get some of her money back and to get a new caregiver she could trust.

Her case manager at Rise Above Crime went to bat for her. In addition to the representative from Tennessee Choices, she also worked with June’s insurance company, law enforcement people and the TBI to get the Home Health Care agency to fire the caregiver.

By August of 2020, the case reached a standstill. Neither side was moving. June’s caseworker got a lawyer to assist her. He found it necessary to file a Civil Suit.

As in all legal cases, this one drug on. There were numerous court dates.

At various times 2 case workers from Rise Above Crime unit worked on June’s case. Both were subpoenaed to testify in court. The opposing counsel also subpoenaed Rise Above Crime’s case file. The notes in the file clearly documented all the work and the investigation the case workers had done. This added significantly to June’s case.

The manager of the Rise Above Crime unit drove June to each and every court date. She also provided emotional support to her.

What Was the Outcome?

This case was finally settled June’s favor in May of 2021. In addition to being convicted of what she had done, the caregiver was listed in Tennessee’s Abuse Registry. Here is what the Tennessee Department of Health website has about this registry:

“The Abuse Registry includes names of persons who have abused, neglected, exploited or misappropriated the property of vulnerable persons. The names on the Abuse Registry are submitted for placement by Tennessee departments and agencies which oversee the protection and welfare of vulnerable persons. “

While the case could never eliminate the physical and emotional abuse June had experienced at the hands of her caregiver, her victory was the start of her healing process.

June recovered most of the money that had been taken from her. However, more gratifying for her was the fact she won her case. Her abuser was found guilty. She will never be able to victimize another older person here in Tennessee who needs care.

As you can imagine, the people in the Rise Above Crime unit did quite a bit of work on this case. The fact that all of it was during the Covid-19 pandemic and they could not have in-person meetings made their work more difficult.

If you feel you are a victim of Elder Abuse or know someone who is, don’t just stand idly by. Please call the Office on Aging and ask for the Rise Above Crime unit. They are ready to help you or the person you know. The phone number is 865-524-2786.

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If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com.