Sunday, April 09, 2006

Notes from May Meeting: Elder Abuse

Presenters: Scott Spallina, Deputy District Attorney, Elder Abuse

Marilyn Seely, former director of the Executive Office on Aging, Kokua Council Board member and now consultant on Aging issues introduced the speaker with these statements: Hawaii has one of the poorest records for elder abuse and fraud because of restrictive laws, definition of “dependency” ,different agencies not talking to each other, elders ashamed to complain.

Scott Spallina: Don’t trust anybody. Family members, caregivers, helpful neighbors are worst offenders with those addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling accounting for over 50% of elder abuse.

Elders are the perfect victims; they own older homes that they are unable to keep up with repairs, often live alone, have assets, are lonely and trusting, have predictable habits (leave home same time each day) and less likely to take action.

Typically it takes eight incidents of abuse, financial or physical before a victim or neighbor will complain. Usually this is because of embarrassment, fear of being declared incompetent, ashamed to turn in a family member, will have no one to look after him or her if they do. 75% of cases are dropped because of this.

Attempts to change laws have failed in the past because other state priorities have taken precedence, administrators say they are handling all complaints, public hasn’t coalesced around the issue. (!!!)