Elderly abuse on the rise amid budget cuts for investigations

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:


ATLANTA - More and more people in Georgia are reporting elderly abuse and neglect, which is contributing to a growing case load for state investigators, according to elderly advocates.

“We are seeing that case managers are being so overburdened, they are not able to investigate in a timely manner,” said Kathryn Fowler, who is the director of the Georgia Council on Aging.

Adult Protective Services said it's seen a 67 percent increase in elderly abuse cases reported and investigated since 2008. Fowler said the slumping economy is a major contributing factor.
Instead of adding staff, the state’s 2014 proposed budget cuts funds by $528,871. The cuts include the elimination of 17 family service worker positions. These workers deal with the most at-risk and needy clients, by providing services like transportation to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store, according to Fowler.
“Those duties are going to fall on the already overburdened professional care managers, so we are going to have an even bigger problem,” Fowler said.
“I would beg them to reconsider their decisions. They need to think about if it was their mother or their father,” said Robin Robinson, who said her mother was neglected at a personal care home facility in Newton County.
When Robinson’s mother, Virginia Lerch, died, she was about 90 pounds and malnourished, according to doctors.

“She had bed sores down to her bone,” Robinson said.  When Channel 2 Action News visited the facility in Covington, it was shut down.  
“There are folks out there that are opportunists that take advantage of the situation such as what we found in this instance,” said Michael Prieto, who is Robinson’s attorney in her civil lawsuit.

Prieto, whose law practice focuses on elderly abuse, said he is seeing a growing number of cases, and also contends that state is operating with too few resources to put a check on the problem.
“They are overworked and underpaid,” said Prieto, who added that abuse and neglect issues are going to continue to rise as the baby boomer population ages.

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