Elder Abuse: What are the Warning Signs?


Earlier this year, Georgia Health News reported on a “horrific” elder abuse case in Albany, Georgia, that led to the arrests of three people.

Victims living in unlicensed personal care homes were deprived of “health care, shelter and necessary sustenance” in addition to being exploited financially, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a news conference. The senior adults were later relocated to licensed facilities.

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Personal care home owner indicted

Augusta Chronicle

The operator of an Augusta personal care home where a 59-year-old patient was found dead last summer has been named in a 12-count indictment that accuses her of neglecting six elderly or disabled adults.

The Richmond County grand jury returned the indictment against April Paulk on Tuesday. In addition to the neglect charges, Paulk is accused of three counts exploitation of an elderly adult, two counts of identity theft, and one count of obstruction of an investigation.

Paulk operated Dynasty Care Facility at 1938 Kings Grant Dr. where Edward E. Dath was found dead July 25. The newly formed personal care home task force, Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly, began an investigation. Team members found five other patients at the home who were moved to homes with qualified caregivers, according to a news release from William Loomer, the district attorney office’s investigator tasked with leading CAVE.

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Study: Georgia Elder Abuse Protections rank 23rd in nation



ATLANTA (WGXA) - Georgia ranks 23rd in the country for how well elder abuse laws actually protect senior citizens in a recent WalletHub study.

Pam Clayton, vice president of quality advancement and regulatory affairs for the Georgia Health Care Association, said Georgia has rigorous standards for reporting elder abuse and high accountability for nursing homes. 

If there is an allegation of elder abuse or if staff members discover injury of unknown origin, they are required to report it to law enforcement or the State Survey Agency within two hours. Continue Reading

Cobb Caregiver indicted after cops say he killed 91-year-old man

Atlanta Journal Constitution

A caregiver at an East Cobb assisted-living facility has been indicted on felony murder charges after police say he beat a 91-year-old patient to death.

The Cobb County grand jury made the decision on Thursday to move along the case of Landon Jean Pierre Terrel, court documents show.

According to a warrant, Terrel — who stands 6 feet and 3 inches tall, weighing 369 pounds  — beat Adam Neil Bennett inside the Sunrise at Cobb facility on Johnson Ferry Road until he broke the elderly man’s ribs, lacerated his kidney and punctured a lung. Continue Reading on myajc.com

Personal care home task force up and running in Augusta

The Augusta Chronicle


After learning about Gregory Lauderdale’s slow death that began with an infected bedsore, District Attorney Natalie Paine ’s obsession with personal care home patients kicked into full gear.

The result is a new, specialized unit, CAVE – Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly. William Loomer, an investigator in the district attorney’s office, is spearheading the unit.

Members include a prosecutor, DA investigator, and a member from the sheriff and marshal offices, the coroner and the fire department. CAVE will work closely with code enforcement and Department of Community Health employees who inspect personal care homes for violations of state regulations and local ordinances, Loomer said. Continue Reading

Forsyth woman charged for alleged neglect, exploitation of elderly in illegal care home



FORSYTH, Ga. -- A Forsyth woman was arrested Tuesday for reportedly exploiting at least 11 elderly or disabled adults by running an unlicensed personal care home under poor living conditions.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 39-year-old Michelle Oliver was charged with felony exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons, and residents, felony neglect of a disabled adult, elder person, and resident and for operating an unlicensed personal care home.

During an investigation, which began in July, it was discovered that residents who rented Albany apartments from Oliver were begging for food.

From there, state and local agencies searched those apartments near South Jackson St. and Flintside Dr. Because of the living conditions, the units were condemned. Continue Reading

Arrest Made in Disabled/Elderly Exploitation Case

Albany, GA – On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) executed search warrants and made an arrest in a multi-county investigation involving the exploitation of disabled and elderly adults.  Michelle Oliver, 39, was arrested for exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons, and residents (felony); neglect of a disabled adult, elder person, and resident (felony); and for operating an unlicensed personal care home (misdemeanor).  The case was worked in conjunction with the Healthcare Facility Regulation office, a division of the Georgia Department of Community Health, and Adult Protective Services of the Georgia Department of Human Services.

The GBI began the criminal case in July of this year after residents in the South Jackson Street and Flintside Drive area of Albany informed authorities that people living in nearby apartments rented by Oliver were begging for food.  The investigation led to state and local agencies executing search warrants on Oliver’s apartments.  The units were condemned by Albany Code Enforcement because of the living conditions. Seven elderly and/or disabled adults were triaged by Dougherty County EMS and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. The individuals were relocated to licensed facilities.

State and local authorities also executed a search warrant at Oliver’s residence located at 102 River Overlook in Forsyth, GA, where she was taken into custody.  Four elderly/disabled adults, who were also living at the house, had to be moved to licensed facilities.

During the execution of the search warrants, it was learned that a residence in Bibb County was also connected to Oliver.  Authorities found three additional elderly/disabled persons at 2475 Houston Avenue in Macon.  The three individuals were also relocated.

The following agencies have also assisted in the investigation: Albany Police Department, Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office, Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Office of Attorney General -Medicare Fraud Control Unit, Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office, Albany Transit Authority, Southwest Georgia Council on Aging (Ombudsmen), and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation is still active and more charges against Oliver are expected. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the GBI office in Sylvester at 229-777-2080.

GBI Officers get life saving lessons in Forsyth


FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Crimes against elderly people are being reported more, thanks to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) creating the At Risk Adult Abuse Plan. It’s a plan created to help decrease exploitation and abuse toward the elderly.

Part of the plan includes training officers about diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that are common to come across with older people.

Vernon Keenan, GBI Director, said the training is helping because officers have come across this disease more over the years.

“This is something that they are encountering routinely in their day to day activities and they need to be trained on how to handle these type of instances,” Keenan said.

So Tim Sutton, with Next Generation Training and Better Understanding, teaches officers about Alzheimer’s.   Continue Reading

Deputies: Suspects stole jewelry from elderly, disabled woman in Flowery Branch


Two suspects are behind bars for allegedly stealing more than $1,500 worth of jewelry from an elderly, disabled Flowery Branch woman.

Scott Andrew Fuller, 39, and Tammy Roberts Martin, 41, were apparently living in the victim's home on Germantown Drive when the victim began to notice some her jewerly was missing, according to Deputy Stephen Wilbanks, Hall County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Continue Reading

Georgia man sentenced to 15 years in elder abuse case


CHEROKEE COUNTY, Georgia (WDEF) – A Cherokee County man has pleaded guilty to exploitation of an elder person and forgery.

Reginald Keith is the adopted son of an 89 year old retired Postal Service employee.

Medical Fraud investigators say he stole money over a four year period when his father was in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation.

They say Keith forged checks in his father’s name and deposited them in his business’s account.

Ultimately, he took $90,000 from his father, including money from a reverse mortgage on his home.

His father would end up losing that home. Continue Reading

Authorities investigating death from personal care home


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- After a massive investigation centered on a personal care home death of 59-year-old Edward Dath, several new developments have surfaced.

Richmond County authorities have responded to Dynasty Care Group 15 times since 2014. Seven of those 15, though, are just from this year alone.

Since 2016, the group home has had four residents wander or go missing.

What's more, a report was filed earlier this year against the owner for financial transaction fraud on a resident living at the home. Continue Reading

Grandson arrested, 'person of interest' in grandmother's disappearance


DECATUR, Ga. -- The DeKalb County Police have arrested the man they believe had something to do with his grandmother's "suspicious" disappearance.

Gregory Williams, 37, was arrested Thursday at the Kroger, located at the intersection of Flakes Mill and Flat Shoals Parkway just before 1 p.m., after police spotted him inside his grandmother, Millicent Williams' car, a 2014 Toyota Corolla in the parking lot, DeKalb County Police Lt. Lonzy Robertson said. Continue Reading

Georgia's Trouble With Elder Abuse And Senior Health


June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The recently published America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds the state now ranks 41st in the nation for senior health, down two spots from last year. We talk about the state of our elder care system with Kathy Floyd, Executive Director for the Georgia Council on Aging. And Glenn Ostir, Director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Georgia. Listen to the 10 minute interview here

Elder Abuse Advocates encourage seniors to report abuse


On any given day in Chatham County, there may be a caregiver or relative taking advantage of a senior citizen. It could be stealing the elder’s money or it may be worse: physical, mental and even sexual abuse.

Now advocates say there is a place for seniors (anyone age 50 and over) in distress to go for help. They have opened up a new office located inside the Candler Infirmary at 1900 Abercorn Street in Savannah.

“We encourage seniors who have been victims of elder abuse whether it’s financial exploitation, physical abuse, mental abuse to speak up and don’t feel alone because we don’t want them to feel isolated,” said Dionne Lovett from the Area Agency on Aging. “Because now there’s an opportunity for anonymity so seniors don’t have to feel like they’re in the spotlight, they can come and report the abuse.” Continue Reading

Office of the Attorney General, GBI and PAC Recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Elder abuse is a tragic and evolving problem in our state.

The Office of the Attorney General, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia and other stakeholders are working closely together to go after those who seek to perpetrate crimes against our at-risk adults. Sickeningly enough, approximately 90 percent of these offenses are committed by a family member, and, as you can imagine, they are particularly devastating in these situations. 

As we continue to make it a priority to protect our state's most vulnerable citizens, we are urging the public to be on the lookout for signs of elder abuse in all its forms: physical, emotional and financial.

Physical Abuse:

• Pushing, striking, slapping, pinching or beating

• Burning or scalding

• Hitting with a hand or instrument

• Rough handling

• Improper use of restraints or medications

• Intentional injuries such as bruising, burns, broken bones or pain

• Injuries not consistent with medical diagnosis or explanation

• Forcing someone to remain in a bed or chair

• Forcing someone to remain in a room (including locking them in)

Emotional Abuse:

• Threatening someone with violence, nursing home placement, abandonment or neglect

• Verbal abuse including: threats, insults, harassment, name calling or intimidating

• Isolating from friends, family or activities

• Ignoring or excessively criticizing

• Making derogatory or slanderous statements

• Repeatedly raising the issue of death

• Excluding the older person from decision making when he or she is capable and wants to be included

Financial Abuse:

• Misuse of financial resources for another’s gain

• Missing money or valuables

• Credit card charges the individual did not make

• Unusual activity in bank accounts, depleted bank accounts

• Legal documents (such as will or power of attorney) signed by a person who does not understand what she/he is signing

• Checks/documents signed when person cannot write; signatures on checks that don’t resemble the person’s signature

• Eviction notice arrives when person thought s/he owned the house

• Unpaid bills (rent, utilities, taxes) when someone is supposed to be paying them for the person

What can you do?

We must continue the critical conversation about how to implement the best infrastructure possible to support our aging community. If we don’t, we open up the door for our at risk adults to be physically harmed, malnourished, deprived of medical treatment or completely conned out of their identities and benefit information.

The Office of the Attorney General, the GBI and PAC will not stand by and allow this behavior to continue, and we know the citizens of Georgia will join us to end the scourge of elder abuse.

If you believe someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, please use the following resources to report it immediately:

Georgia Department of Human Services:

Division of Aging HOTLINE - 1-866-55AGING

Division of Aging WEBSITE - aging.georgia.gov/report-elder-abuse  

Georgia Bureau of Investigation:

Call: 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency

Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys Council:

Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council WEBSITE – www.pacga.org

Victim Witness Assistance Program Directory

Georgia’s Older Adults Cabinet

We also want to commend Governor Nathan Deal for creating the Georgia’s Older Adults Cabinet, a committee working to identify ways for Georgia to improve the well-being of its older residents by bringing together state agency heads, participants in the business community, philanthropies and educational institutions whose work supports older Georgians.

The Older Adults Cabinet is Co-chaired by First Lady Sandra Deal and Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden. Under their leadership, we are confident that the Older Adults Cabinet will produce thoughtful recommendations and identify resources for our older adults. 

Rise in Financial Crimes against Aging Adults

Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.”

In Georgia, the number of financial exploitation cases seen by Adult Protective Services, and then referred to law enforcement has increased more than 115 percent since 2010.

We believe that educating our aging adults is critical in fighting this type of abuse. See detailed commentary regarding some of the types of crimes we are seeing below:

1. Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud

Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of their money.

In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications.

This scam is growing in popularity—since 2000, the FDA has investigated an average of 20 such cases per year, up from five a year in the 1990s.

The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.

3. Funeral & Cemetery Scams

The FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.

In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them; scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.

Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill.

In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist that a casket, usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services, is necessary even when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.

4. Telemarketing

Perhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average.

With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Also, once a successful deal has been made, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.

Examples of telemarketing fraud include:

“The Pigeon Drop”

The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.

“The Fake Accident Ploy”

The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.

“Charity Scams”

Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.

5. Internet Fraud

While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among our aging population makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs.

6. Investment Schemes

Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for their later years.

7. Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams

This simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected.

During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.

8. The Grandparent Scam

The Grandparent Scam is so simple and so devious, because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts.

Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.

Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via a third party, which don’t always require identification to collect.

At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”

While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.

9. Door-to-Door Sales Fraud

While door to door sales problems can impact any consumer, seniors are often at home during the day and susceptible to high pressure sales tactics.

Here are some potential “red flags” of a home improvement/door to door scams:

• Work is unsolicited, repairman goes door-to-door. He may show checks received from other neighbors as proof of his credibility.

• Business is not listed in the local phone directory and/or contractor refuses to give out his address.

• There is no written quote/contract.

• Contractor only accepts cash as payment.

• Contractor offers special introductory offers or a discount valid only for today.

• Contractor insists that you pay in full before all work has been completed.

• Small job expands into huge job, or additional problems are later “discovered”.

• High pressure sales tactics, scare tactics or threats.

Elder Abuse a Growing Problem in Newnan

The Newnan Times-Herald

Recent cases of elder abuse might shed light on an expanding crime in Newnan. 
Elder abuse is also called elder mistreatment and refers to the act, or failure to act, by caregivers or another person in a relationship with older adults.
Owner and CEO of Home Helpers of Georgia and Alabama, Beth Dow, has worked with the elderly for more than 10 years. She has noticed that elder abuse is a recurring offense in many caregiver relationships. “I report to adult protective services about every other month,” Dow said on how often she sees cases of elder abuse. 
The abuse comes in the form of neglect or financial abuse in most cases, according to Dow. The caregiver will use, and in some cases, live off of the elder's money.
In cases where the elder can do very little for themselves, the caregiver will go hours without checking in with the elder. Leaving the elder without food or making sure they properly use the restroom can also be categorized as neglect. 
There are other styles of abuse such as: sexual, physical and emotional which are all punishable by arrest. 
There are warning signs and ways to prevent elder abuse. According to the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, changes in behavior or emotional state can serve as warning signs. 
The refusal of the caregiver to allow visits with the elder is a possible warning sign along with comments about being mistreated by the elder. 
Joy Shirley, director of the Three Rivers Agency on Aging, says she notices the developing problem and feels that elder abuse is growing.
The state of Georgia has taken steps as recently as March to help prevent elder abuse, adding $766,000 for additional Adult Protective Service workers who investigate abuse of the elderly and disabled. Continue Reading

Murder conviction stands for woman who left veteran outside to freeze

Atlanta Journal Constitution

The state Supreme Court on Monday upheld the murder conviction of a Clayton County caregiver who locked a mentally disabled veteran out of her house in January 2014 and watched television inside while he froze to death.

The frozen body of Arthur Pelham, 66, was found outside the woman’s locked back door.

Dale El Smith, 74, argued in her appeal that she had sent Pelham outside to catch a bus to an adult daycare center that day and that she did not know the center had closed because of freezing temperatures. Continue Reading

Carr: State to continue fight against human trafficking, elder abuse

Suwanee Democrat

THOMASVILLE — Georgia's attorney general told a gathering of area law enforcement officials Friday morning his office will continue a focus on substance abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking.

Speaking to the semi-annual South Georgia Intelligence Network meeting, state Attorney General Chris Carr said the state remains committed to stopping human sex trafficking. The average age of a sex trafficking victim is a 12-14-year-old girl.  Continue Reading