Families of loved ones or compassionate caregivers who notice suspicious preoccupation or activity of others surrounding the loved one or realize fraud that has or may happen should locate authorities to investigate. Following through to prosecute any perpetrators is essential to stop elder abuse. Brushing over the situation or allowing an agency or facility to negogiate out of liability situations allows for other victims.
There are laws on the books to prevent and prosecute abusers, but many times the situations get kicked under the rug. Much has been said about older people that are easily taken in by door to door salesmen and phone solicitors. However not enough is being done about those closest to the victims.
In many cases, the ailing or aging person is too fragile to deal with police, courts and the overwhelming justice system. Advocates can step in and provide the support needed.
The caregiver may be the perpetrator.
Most caregivers are exceptional and work extremely hard, some to the brink of burnout. Others, in spite of background checks and great praise from the service they work for are able to show a talent for care giving, gain the trust of the clients and then break all laws and rules of elder abuse. Sometimes those who seem to be great caregivers gain the trust of the sick and elderly and then money and valuables disappear from the home or space in a facility.
Honorable caregivers should be advocates of vulnerable citizens and report suspicions. It is illegal not to report when fraud of theft is suspected or witnessed by other caregivers.
Agencies and facilities should be advocates for the patient.
It should be the responsibility of the home agency or facility to eliminate any caregiver from employment who is caught in the act of stealing or fraud. Even though there are cases of delusional or suspicious preoccupation among the older population and dementia people, every case should be investigated and resolved. At any rate, that caregiver should never be able to return to that home or work with that patient, and if the incident has happened more than once or it is proven that there was some proof that theft occurred, the perpetrator should be fired.
Home agency or dependent care facility businesses are by law obligated to protect the patient or client. Keeping caregivers on staff that violate the trust of those served sets the agency up for lawsuit and bad reputation. Trying to reinstate that caregiver back into the home or reassigning them to other clients is deplorable. More than that, the most vulnerable of the population deserve to be honored and protected, not ignored, manipulated and viewed merely as the product.
Family members should be proactive in patient rights.
If family members suspect that fraud or theft has been committed, immediate action should be taken to investigate and if proof is found, there should be no wasted time or qualms about filing charges. If perpetrators are allowed to continue business as usual, or if the caregiver employer feels that a little discipline may be all that is needed, the agency or facility should be held accountable for the abuse as well.
Reputable caregivers should be careful in staffing with agencies that do not do throrough back ground checks and who protect and continue to assign workers to home care or in house patients with suspect or proven theft or fraud records.
Be proactive to support Elder Abuse legislation.
ag.ca.gov Citizens Guide: What is Financial Elder Abuse?
U.S. Department of Justice, National Center Justice Referral Service Financial Abuse of Older People Vs. Other Forms of Elder Abuse
OVC.gov Partnering with Faith Communities to Provide Elder Fraud Prevention and Victim Services
U.S. Government Accountability Office – Elder Justice – Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse Reissued March 22, 2011