Protecting the weak

Elder-abuse case underscores the importance of watching for red flags

Harm to those who are the most vulnerable in society—children, the elderly, those with disabilities, animals—are among the most heinous crimes law enforcement personnel encounter.

We are deeply disturbed this week, then, by reports alleging severe neglect of a Paradise woman who reportedly died as a result of her weakened state, caused, according to the district attorney, by malnourishment and festering open bed sores (see Tom Gascoyne’s report on page 8). What’s further unsettling is that one of the people charged with caring for the woman was a relative who had undergone training to recognize elder abuse.

That caregiver, along with her husband, the victim’s son, now face criminal charges, second-degree murder and elder abuse, respectively. If they are found guilty, we’d urge the court to impose the strictest of sentences. That wouldn’t bring back the victim, 68-year-old Deanna Schorovsky, but it might send a message to other senior caregivers in the region.

Sadly, elder abuse is not an uncommon occurrence. And it comes in many forms, including physical, psychological and financial. In recent weeks, for example, the CN&R wrote about a local banker who allegedly stole about $88,000 from a resident of a local assisted-living facility. Fortunately, a tipster alerted authorities—Butte County Adult Protective Services—to some red flags that led to the man’s arrest.

It’s imperative for citizens who suspect elder abuse is taking place to report their concerns to local protective service agencies or law enforcement. Research indicates that up to 1.2 million elderly Americans are mistreated each year, but experts also estimate that for every reported case, another five go unreported. In short, we must all be watchful of our community’s elderly residents to ensure their emotional and physical well-being.