The National Council on Aging found that one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced some type of elder abuse. One southwest Virginia community has placed a new emphasis on seeking justice for those victims.
Wise County, Virginia’s MDT which stands for “multi-disciplinary team,” recently gathered for the very first time.
WJHL.com’s recent article, “Fighting elder abuse with collaboration, new ‘MDT team’ meets in Wise County, VA,” reports that the new MDT is made up of law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, social workers, and prosecutors in Wise County.
Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said this team is the type of collaboration already used in child abuse cases.
“Well, why can’t we do that same thing for elder abuse cases. We have the same difficulties in prosecuting them, they’re underreported, they’re under prosecuted and the victims have a hard time testifying, ” Slemp said.
Elder abuse cases, like child abuse cases, are often hard to prosecute.
Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. The perpetrators of this abuse can be children, other family members, spouses, and staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.
Slemp said he sees extensive credit card fraud, with people opening up credit cards in the name of the other person and charging those up. The elderly or incapacitated person is then responsible for the credit card debt. He also confirmed what the National Council on Aging found: it’s frequently a family member or caretaker who’s doing the abuse. In many instances, the victim doesn’t want that person prosecuted.
In one month alone, Wise County Department of Social Services received approximately 40 reports of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation, of which 85 to 90% are 60 or older.
Slemp hopes the new MDT new team will continue to affect change in fighting elder abuse. He sees it as the first step in a very large movement to protect senior citizens from those who would do them harm.
Reference: WJHL.com (June 28, 2018) “Fighting elder abuse with collaboration, new ‘MDT team’ meets in Wise County, VA”