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Elder Abuse: Agency Collaboration Is Key  

Author:  Linda  Dawson, J.D..; Maddie  Kasper, B.A..; Sara  Mayer .; Shelley  Carlson, B.S., M.A..

Source: Volume 19, Number 02, December/January 2014 , pp.17-20(4)

Domestic Violence Report

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Sadly, every day in communities throughout the United States, cases of elder abuse come to light, often too late to help the older victims of the abuse. In early 2013, two heinous crimes of elder abuse were reported in Cass County, North Dakota. One case involved a woman in her late 80s whose bed sores were so deep her bones could be seen. The other involved an emaciated woman in her early 70s who was so starved that she began to eat tissues, thinking they were food. Both women were in the care of their sons. These cases rocked Cass County and the surrounding Fargo (ND)-Moorhead (MN) metro area. After these cases were discovered, the agency staff who were involved asked themselves important questions: How could this have happened? How could it have been prevented? How did it go undetected for so long? What could and should have been done–and by whom? Then, armed with their determination to prevent similar cases in the future, Cass County developed an innovative inter-agency collaboration to address the problem of elder abuse in their area. It is through effective inter-agency collaboration efforts that elder abuse can be prevented and identified, and a community’s resources can be engaged to offer necessary assistance to older individuals who are being harmed or exploited.

Keywords: elder abuse cases difficult to address

Affiliations:  1: National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life, Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence; 2: National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life; 3: National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life; 4: Program Coordinator for two Elder Abuse grants in North Dakota and Minnesota.

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