Protecting the Elderly from Abuse

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RENO, NV - Tuesday, officers with the Reno Police Department arrested a housekeeper at the Emeritus senior living community on Summit Ridge Court. Reno resident Sherry Sjostrom is charged with burglary and grand larceny with both charges having elderly enhancements.

"She admitted she had done it to two separate residents at that facility," Officer Tim Broadway of the Reno Police Department said.

According to a statement from Emeritus at the Seasons, a background check was conducted on that employee and was in compliance with state and company requirements. The company says the employee is no longer with the company and the safety and security of residents there is their top priority.

"People are living longer and the older people in this country are getting victimized a lot more," Broadway said.

It's something social workers with Washoe County Senior Services deal with all the time.

"We hear of incidences every day, it happened to my grandmother even," social worker Dawn Costa said.

She says the most important thing to do if there's any question of abuse is to call the police or Elder Protective Services.

When hiring in-home help, it pays to do your homework.

"You want to hire people that are licensed and bonded and you want to follow up, that's very important," Costa said. "Also, don't leave people unattended in your home, don't leave any bank or financial statements where people may be able to see them. I've seen people homeless because their rent for the month was stolen out of their bank account by someone who went shopping for them and got their pin number."

Police believe a lot of elderly abuse cases go unreported.

"Some are afraid that if they report a crime they might get kicked out of their facility for being a troublemaker," Broadway said. "So it's important to know the signs of elderly abuse. If there are changes in personality or appetite, if you're at a care facility and you notice a change in mood or emotion when certain staff members come into the room, that could be a sign they're being abused."

If you suspect this kind of abuse you can call your local police department or Elder Protective Services at (888) 729-0571