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24 July 2009

The Defenseless Ones

Something I thought about today that isn't usually discussed is the problem of Elder Abuse. Now, while most people think about physical violence when they hear abuse, you don't often think of other ways in which the elderly are taken advantage of. I had a case today that kept me late and which turned into a very disturbing story.

Again, while I cannot discuss the particulars of the case because this will now be a criminal investigation, I can say that a moment of kindness offered by a stranger turned into a break-in and physical abuse on the elder person. To add insult to injury, the attacker portrayed a health care worker "acting concerned" about the elder when they somehow managed to call 911 and police arrived.

The elder was then transported as having Altered Mental Status and ended up in the ED. Meanwhile, the stranger and their accomplices ransacked and stole from this elder person. Luckily, a concerned neighbor was able to get a license plate, and the suspects are being tracked. But this poor person had to suffer some humiliation with no one believing them, not to mention the losses suffered in their home, and probably some loss of faith in humanity. I was in shock as I was told the story. If I get an update I will post it.

Unfortunately, we often see some form or other of elder abuse. Usually neglect, sometimes by families that mean well, but are just not prepared to handle the demands of a frail aging person with multiple medical problems. Or by the hands of those in the nursing homes to which they are entrusted. I haven't written about some of the more horrific stories I've heard and seen. I've had a patient I've called Adult Protective Services for due to concern their fracture was inflicted by a staff member.

As for the rest of the day...

I spent the morning cleaning up from a multivehicle accident that resulted in the death of a Buffalo police officer.

I then had a patient come in with a steak knife sticking out of their belly. The driver and passenger of a motorcycle crash who both needed trauma work-ups. An overdose who needed to be intubated upon arrival. And assorted other crazy patients that each took up their own space of time.

Tomorrow it's back to the fun at the County. What a way to spend the weekend!

p.s. you can link to the National Council on Elder Abuse by clicking on the purple ribbon.


a corgi said...

oh my, a steak knife in their belly; that must have been an interesting story to hear how that transpired!

it is sad with elder abuse; I'm glad there are agencies to help out to make sure elders are not being abused; it seems like there are always people out there that will prey on anyone that can't stick up for themselves; that is the sad part that we have disregarded the sanctity and dignity of human life


Julie said...

It saddens me to see some of the things I see family do to their loved ones. Or maybe not loved. Just for their check. And the patients often won't say anything because they think it is better then being in a nursing home, which it may be. Sad situations.

Claudia's thoughts said...

A sad trauma happened to a CRNA in the Pittsburgh area. They were horse back riding on vacation in NC. Some one took a photo, spooked the horse in front with the flash. The woman's horse reared up, she fell off, then the horse fell on the woman. She dies instantly with blunt force trauma with the family looking on and trying CPR.

Lisa said...

Gosh, a steak knife in their belly! Elder abuse is a horrendous crime. We had a horrible, horrible elder abuse occur and we KNEW the people who did it. They were my dog groomers. They let their mother die from starvation and her backside was filled with maggots. I didn't know the victim but I cried for her and it kept me awake at night thinking about how she must have felt knowing her son was letting her suffer. I am going to visit the site you mention.