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Reported cases of elder abuse rising in Georgia

Elder abuse is an important problem that has garnered more attention in recent years. Acts of negligence can occur not only in nursing homes but also in the family home. It is important for victims and their families to know that the elderly are entitled to a reasonable standard of care, and those who fall victim to nursing home neglect or abuse should strive to understand their options available under the law.

In Georgia, there's reportedly a 22 percent increase in elder-abuse complaints since 2007. The claims, including mental, physical and financial abuse, increased to 11,000 from 9,000 in the latest fiscal year, according to the Department of Human Services' Division of Aging Services' director. A Senate committee heard this news recently as it attempts to begin searching for options to decrease these numbers.

According to the director, the number of the department's investigators, along with those of the Department of Community Health, is not large enough to handle all of the claims of abuse. He, along with Sen. Renee Unterman, the committee's chairwoman, is trying to bring more awareness to the situation.

The next committee meeting will take place near the end of November and will include officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The senator noted that there are several bills regarding elder abuse that are waiting to be introduced. The committee will continue to prepare for the General Assembly in January.

Nursing home negligence, as well as abuse that occurs in the victim's home, can cause bedsores, falls, bone fractures and head injuries and may even result in a permanent disability. If there is any question about the quality of the nursing home staff, it is important to follow-up and investigate any abuse claims.

Source: Rome News-Tribune, "Georgia senators look into elder abuse," Walter C. Jones, Oct. 23, 2012.

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