23 December 2013

"Elder abuse, including neglect, on the rise..."

Elder abuse, including neglect, on the rise as world's population begins to age

[What is left in your wake once you become old, frail and helpless, when you or a loved one falls victim to elder abuse, financial elder abuse, fraud, undue influence and theft?]

"There is no gentle way to describe the state Cynthia was in when she arrived at the hospital.

Her chafed skin was covered in bedsores and feces. Her toenails were overgrown and curling, her right foot riddled with infections, and she had no teeth or dentures. She was dehydrated and malnourished, and couldn't speak.

Most troubling, her swollen right leg was 10 centimeters (4 inches) shorter than her left, the result of a fracture healing improperly.

Marguerite didn't ride to the hospital with her mother. Staffers called her repeatedly.

"I think we should discuss your mum," a social worker told Marguerite over the phone. "We are really concerned about her. She's not at all well."

Marguerite didn't show up to the hospital for three days.

So doctors called the state Adult Guardian to gain consent to operate. But the fracture was too severe and the delay in treatment too long; the break appeared between 3 and 12 weeks old.

On Dec. 30, the doctors recommended palliative care. Marguerite said no, then yes, then asked for her mother's transfer to another hospital. The doctors said Cynthia was too fragile.

Marguerite threatened to call the police if staffers touched her mother again. Hospital officials scheduled an urgent family meeting. Marguerite did not attend.

Cynthia died at 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2009. She was one week shy of her 89th birthday."

"The investigator, Det. Sgt. Glen Skugor, took the stand first. The case had bothered him, he said. It had bothered everyone — the paramedics, the doctors, his fellow officers.

The autopsy concluded Cynthia died from a blood clot in her lung, sparked by the leg fracture. In an expert opinion, Dr. Stephen Morrison, head of thoracic medicine at Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, said her condition suggested a "severe degree of neglect...to the point of cruelty in a distressed, demented and totally dependent patient."

Officers who photographed Cynthia's body noticed bruising on her arms and midsection. The police contemplated several charges: manslaughter, failure to provide the necessities of life, negligent acts causing harm, torture. But the doctors couldn't say beyond a reasonable doubt that Marguerite's care had directly caused Cynthia's death, and similar cases had failed to nab convictions.

And so police closed the case. No charges were filed. In the eyes of the law, Cynthia became a nonentity."

"People won't prosecute — whether it's police, whether it's family members — because it involves family business," she says.

"Because it's private. Because there's a level of abuse that's tolerated in the community that none of us wishes was there. We all turn a blind eye."

Read the article: Elder Abuse rising world wide

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