Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Excuse Me, But Where Were You When All This Was Going On?

Paul Greenwood’s mother is 94 and lives alone in England. As an expert on elder abuse, Greenwood worries about her.

“She is the next perfect victim in waiting,” he says.

So, he does one simple thing daily to help keep her safe from predators. He talks to her.

For the past six years, he’s called to check in and see what’s going on in her life. For the past 2½ years they’ve done it via Facetime on her iPad mini. “This is my way of knowing that, at least today, my mother is not a victim,” he says.

Greenwood recently retired from his 22-year role as San Diego County deputy district attorney in charge of the elder abuse division. He knows from experience that seniors – especially those living alone – are targets of scammers and abuse by caregivers and relatives.

Now he is a consultant and educator on the topic of elder abuse. A native of Great Britain (who recently became a U.S. citizen), he travels the country speaking to judicial and law-enforcement organizations.

“A number of times I’ve had adult children phone me up, and they’re angry because they’ve just discovered their mother has been ripped off by their caregiver, and they start telling me the story and want me to prosecute,” Greenwood says. “I interrupt them and say, ‘Excuse me, but where were you when all this was going on?’

“And of course they make every excuse as to why they weren’t involved, why they didn’t visit their mum, why they didn’t phone regularly. That’s what these crooks or caregivers know. When they know there’s an adult son or daughter who’s not interested in their elderly parent, they will then swoop.

“I tell the adult children, ‘You’ve got to do a better job of looking out for your elderly parent.’ ”

A growing pool of targets

Elder abuse takes many forms. The most prevalent is financial exploitation. It’s the caller who gets a donation to a bogus charity, the internet scheme that gains access to an account, or a daughter or grandson with a gambling habit or drug addiction who steals jewelry, cash or credit cards. Millions of seniors are victims each year, with total losses estimated at more than $36 billion.

Then comes physical abuse, by family members, longtime friends or hired caregivers, who often lash out when confronted by the seniors who discover they’ve been ripped off by the people they’ve trusted. A report in April, by the San Diego Association of Governments’ criminal justice research division, indicated the number of reported violent crimes against seniors in the county has risen 37 percent in the past five years.

There’s also neglect, when those unable to care for themselves are left malnourished, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated or forced to live in unhealthy conditions.

Elders can become victims because their cognitive skills and memories, especially in their 80s and 90s, often have diminished. Also, they may have grown up in a time or place when they were trusting and not skeptical of people’s motives. Even people in trusted positions can be predators.

Greenwood recalls a case in San Diego more than 10 years ago when a church choir director told some of his choir members he was raising money to sponsor evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. When they contributed to his cause, he used the money to feed his gambling addiction.

“It happens everywhere,” he says.

Full Article and Source:
Excuse Me, But Where Were You When All This Was Going On?

1 comment:

StandUp said...

I like Paul Greenwood a lot. He's got common sense and determination and I think equal amounts of each. Wish there were more like him.