Coastal Senior is a monthly periodical covering the South Carolina and Georgia low country. Bob Mason is its legal columnist.
Here is yet another use for duct tape: Keeping an older resident from becoming such a bother. That is actually what an area nursing home did several years ago to keep a demented and unruly resident from getting underfoot. There was more we won’t get into here.
At the time, the only recourse was a misdemeanor charge. The investigation was not handled well by un-trained investigators. The only solid witness died. All the bad guys “walked”.
Chatham County senior advocates sprang to action. Adult Protective Services, the Long Term Care Ombudsman, Senior Citizens, Inc. (and perhaps others) went to then-District Attorney Spencer Lawton. He was appalled.
Soon the Chatham County Commission got on board and funded a dedicated position at the Chatham County DA’s office to investigate and prosecute elder abuse cases. Lawton assigned Assistant District Attorney Meg Heap to the position. After a period of re-tooling at the National College of District Attorneys, she went into action.
I have had an opportunity to work with Heap, and I am impressed with the operation. I practice in another state and have had to beg prosecutors busy with “Big Crimes” to glance at elder abuse cases.
I was surprised when the Savannah-Chatham police began investigating the caregiver of a client of mine who . . . well . . . began to care a bit too deeply about my client’s finances. My surprise gave way to utter amazement when I received a telephone call from Meg Heap looking for additional information. “What! A prosecutor!?”
Soon a senior trial lawyer in the office was involved. Impressive experts were summoned. I couldn’t believe it.
I used to say that one of the few examples of good government was the United States Marine Corps. I’ll add the Elder Abuse Prosecutions Office of the acomplia buy Chatham County District Attorney. Chatham County voters should make sure that both District Attorney Larry Chisholm and the Chatham County Commission know how valuable this program is. As things stand now, my hat is off to them all.
Government budgets are tight. But as finances tighten up for everyone, the less savory in our lot will be tempted to “go for the easy pickin’s”. The concentration of wealth in the hands of seniors is staggering. A clever caregiver who provides companionship to a lonely or ignored senior can easily strip the finances away. Most police, used to dealing with “real bad guys”, do not have the training an expertise to deal with financial abuse. Training is needed and government can do more. We’re talking citizen protection (not to mention a few additional police officers stimulating the economy). There is law enforcement money in the Great Stimulus Bill of 2009 . . . I hope some of it filters down to the coast.
In the meantime, families, stay involved. Be alert. Use common sense. If you suspect elder abuse (physical or financial) call the police, Adult Protective Services (912- 651-2216) or Meg Heap at the Chatham County DA’s Office (912-652-7308).
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