Sunday, December 9, 2007

Letters to the Editors -

RE: Nursing Facilities -
Dear E.A.,
Poor pay won't attract quality staff.
There are a few common factors in most, if not all, retirement and convalescent communities. First is that residents are charged an "arm and a leg" to live at these facilities. Second is the pay scale of the staff employed to care for these residents.
I personally could not do this type of work, no matter how much you paid me. The staff in these facilities are required to bathe, feed and clean up after residents, sometimes involving horrific personal hygiene messes, to put it nicely. This has to be the most outrageously underpaid profession on Earth.
As a result, you end up with a high percentage of uncaring employees with attitudes when you want caring people who are concerned about the welfare of the residents. If elder abuse is ever going to be curbed, the employee pay scale is going to have to reflect the exorbitant cost of living at these facilities.
-- Peter Kentz, San Diego, Ca.

RE: Spiritual lives of elderly are neglected -
Dear Editor;
Spiritual lives of elderly are neglected!
In compiling statistics for an article I wrote about our aging society, I interviewed senior citizens, family members and persons representing care-giving institutions. Regarding their spiritual well-being, one wish was of primary concern: that when they had contact with their priest, minister, rabbi or other spiritual counselor, it would be someone they knew or who knew something about them.
One woman in a nursing home told me that her frequent visitor knew more about every member of a mission family in a foreign country than she knew of those in her parish. In large congregations it's difficult for the officers to know all their senior members. But most churches have files on their members that can be checked for background information.
Seniors expressed the feeling that, if they could no longer be physically active in church committees and such, they were not useful to the function of the congregation and therefore their opinions were dismissed. One formerly active person said "I am no longer part of the young, vigorous and financially endowed, the movers and shakers in the church."
All spoke of the difference between the "duty visit" and that which brought an exchange of ideas related to the patients interests or connection with the church. One noted that the desperate are among us, and many are the elderly who exist in our own city. He added that there seems to be compassion toward those on other continents, while citizens of the United States hope to feed their spiritual hunger without support.
-- Mary Hartz, Marathon, Florida

RE: Exposing abuse will help end it -
Greetings E.A.;
I am a gerontologist and have been in the field of aging for almost 30 years. Your research and articles were long in coming, but so valuable. It is going to take investigative stories such as yours to draw attention to this horrible occurrence, which is not new. Abuse has been occurring as long as man has been alive.
But I agree with your article that it is not the stress of care giving that spawns the problems, but rather the need to control. We can contact our legislators, but each of us is individually responsible to stop this.
Thank you for scratching the surface. The wound is now open, hopefully boomers will provide the balm.
-- Gerry Helms, Brooklyn, N.Y.

RE: Follow boomers' lead and end silent shame' -
To whom it may concern;
We baby boomers forced change in many areas. We protested the Vietnam War, we pushed for changes in divorce laws, we brought about changes in employment rules and job security, we voted for those who supported change, we helped bring special education into our public schools and we marched for civil rights.
We haven't done as well lately, as insurance coverage is eroding, we have soldiers dying, job security is gone and the income gap is widening. Those things affect us, too.
We aren't going to be the ones to force change for the elderly. The baby boomers are wearing out. Pete Seeger isn't singing to us anymore, our children and grandchildren will have to "pick up the hammer," turn up the volume and see to it that elder abuse is no longer a silent shame. Maybe then there will be a change.
-- Martha Pendal, Las Vegas, NV.

RE: Must be accountable from the top down -
To the editors;
The coverage of nursing home and home care abuse was a fabulous opening for correction. It take a person who is an inmate in one of the poor nursing homes to recognize why abuse continues.
Every abuser has a name, which must be given to the nursing home inspectors for them to investigate. The end result is usually "no probable cause for investigation was found." It usually takes filing suit in the courts for probable cause to be found.
A lawsuit can bring about the discharge of the nursing home administrator, who is allowed to move on to the next nursing home. The certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and so on, remain intact.
Nursing homes are aware of what the state inspectors will cover up and what is serious. The state inspector is not held accountable for not finding the reported neglect and abuse. Their job position, along with the involved nurses and nursing assistants, needs to be included in abuse cases in the courts.
We need a registry that notes when a person in this field begins and ends employment. Any person who is dismissed should have a report on the cause with a penalty for failure to include such a report.
I sued two nursing homes, one of which was mentioned in the elder abuse series. One administrator served in six nursing homes. She has never been held accountable.
-- Betty Phillips, Mississippi

RE: Make those who exploit the elderly pay -
Thank you, E.A, for your excellent posts. We can all take immediate steps to deter offenders, abusers and predators from targeting vulnerable adults for financial profit.
To send a clear message, all crimes against elderly, vulnerable adults must be classified as felonies with special circumstances. These should include strong sentencing guidelines with harsh punishments, mandatory time in prison for first time offenders, consecutive sentences for each count with orders of restitution or the defendant returns to prison.
No mercy, no reducing charges to misdemeanors, no probation, no community service, no electronic monitoring.
The media can effectively deter crime by airing and publishing specific crimes of elder abuse and financial exploitation, with case details, names of those charged and the sentences that they received.
-- Steve Rodak, Maryland

-"We at E. A. thank everyone for their comments and we will post more of these as they are sent in, we also thank all of our readers and encourage everyone to contact us with their stories, information on Elder Abuse. All questions are also welcomed!"-

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