Elder Abuse Awareness

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

If a child is being neglected it's much easier for Protective Services to go into the home than it is with an adult.

"The adult world is very different from the child world," said Sgt. Traci Ruiz with the Lansing Police Department. "It's much easier to hide that crime because they'll cancel doctor's appointments, there's not much food in the home -- medications not being distributed."

Sgt. Ruiz is the co-chair of the Elder Death Review Task Force which monitors abuse in those 60 years old and up.

"By us coming together at the table, helps us save resources, time and money," said Sgt. Ruiz.

About 75 percent of all elder abuse cases take place in the home, behind closed doors. Nursing homes like the Senior Care and Rehab Center in Holt do what they can to promote awareness and has a checks and balances system in place to guard against abuse.

Wendy Briggs is the activity director at the Holt Rehab facility and says there is a board made up of interdepartmental members and even residents that investigate any claims of abuse. And awareness is the first step in reporting neglect, which Sgt. Ruiz says is not necessarily on the rise, but the more people know, the more cases the task force investigates.

"The first case we investigated resulted in a homicide."

That case was back in 2007 of 94 year old Margaret Robinson. Police say her caretaker of 16 years, Ira Gudith killed her Gudith was convicted of second degree murder and is currently serving a 15 year sentence. An autopy is what alluded officials to her suspicious death.

"We did the team approach and we had the medical examiner's office on board where they actually did order autopsies and that's where we've been able to determine and find a lot of these crimes, is through the autopsies."

December is the four year anniversary of the task force. The committee meets once a month and is made up of representatives from law enforcement, the attorney general's office, health officials and adult protective services.

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