I’d like to tell you a story. Years ago I received a call from the police dispatcher that an elderly person had called and reported that she was being held in her home against her will. The message was brief and the caller was difficult to understand because she was whispering. I responded to the address and knocked on the door. A man in his 30s answered. I told him why I was there and he indicated that no elderly persons lived there. I continued to question the man, asking who lived in the house besides himself. His wife then joined us at the front door. She also insisted that no one else lived in the house. I asked the man and woman if they were the homeowners. I also contacted the police dispatcher and requested they research the city’s real estate data base and advise me who the owner of record was. Both became highly agitated, stating they no long wanted to speak with me. As they were closing the front door, I heard a faint voice from somewhere inside the house calling for help. I pushed the door open and entered. The man and woman attempted to block my path and I pushed past them. I then went upstairs and found a padlocked bedroom door. I called out and again heard a frail voice behind the locked door calling for help. I forced the door open and discovered an elderly woman in her 80s. She was the great-aunt of the man who answered the front door. She reported to me that her great-nephew and his wife had moved in several months before to “take care” of her. Since that time they made the woman a prisoner in her own home and were emptying her bank account. She was able to sneak to a phone when they let her out to go to the bathroom. I arrested the couple and contacted adult protective services to provide assistance to the elderly lady.
The lady in this incident wanted to stay in her home and avoid a nursing facility. That is why she brought in a relative whom she thought she could trust to help care for her. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Many seniors are exploited in so may ways. With an increasing life expectancy the population of senior citizens is growing ever larger, and most want to stay in their homes and avoid living in assisted facilities as long as possible. Most of you have elderly relatives. What are your feelings toward caring for them in their later years? My question for discussion is this: In your opinion, what can be done at the community level, and at the personal level, to provide the very best care for our aging family members who want to stay in their homes as long as possible?