Abuse by home care providers
Abuse of the elderly in nursing homes has long been recognized as a problem. In Texas, our legislature "addressed" the problem by making it harder to sue nursing homes. Seems those evil plaintiff lawyers and whining relatives of the victims were proving to be a drain on the profits of the large nursing home chains. But large contributions to those in power in Austin saved the day. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic. But votes have consequences and many voters are finding that blind support for "tort reform" just maybe wasn't a good idea). This Wall Street Journal article by Philip Shishkin discusses financial and physical abuse of the elderly in their own homes. Home care is increasingly popular with the elderly, their families, and those paying the bills. As the article notes:
The trend toward home care has generally been hailed as a way to keep seniors happier and healthier, and at a lower cost, than they would be in an institutionalized setting. Nonmedical home aides typically receive only $10 to $15 an hour, and often work part-time. It costs the government's Medicaid program about $6,000 per person per year for home care, versus about $20,000 for care in a nursing home, according to Joshua Wiener, an analyst at RTI International, a research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The bulk of the abuse comes from non-medical providers:
Health aides are often certified nursing assistants, who are generally licensed and regulated. But the bulk of the abuse cases involves caregivers hired to provide nonmedical assistance. These caregivers, who aren't required to receive specialized training, are only loosely overseen.
That is consistent with my personal observations. The unlicensed caregivers who provide housekeeping services are more likely than medical personnel to mistreat the elderly. The most common form of mistreatment is petty theft of cash or property. But sometimes the caregivers convince the senior to write large checks for cash, give them power of attorney, or even make them a beneficiary to their will. Fortunately, physical violence is rare. Family members who suspect such abuse should be vigilant in reporting and removing the care giver. Often times the senior will deny the financial abuse occurred because they are embarrassed to admit the "nice person" was actually a con artist. Even if they don't want to prosecute or file a lawsuit, the relatives should take action to remove the caregiver.