Cases of Abuse By Home Aides Draw Scrutiny
July 15, 2008
Thefts, Neglect, Even Killings Underscore Lack of Regulation; Addicts, Criminals on Payroll
By PHILIP SHISHKIN
In late 2006, 85-year-old Priscilla Stovall, a bedridden survivor of three heart attacks, was killed in her Clovis, Calif., home. Her killer: the aide hired to help her around the house.
Earlier this year, Kelly Jones was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison for the death of Ms. Stovall. The state says Ms. Jones, who had a prior criminal record, was on drugs when she gave Ms. Stovall a lethal overdose of morphine and methadone and ransacked her house.
VICTIMIZING THE ELDERLY
• As employment in home care rises, so is abuse of the elderly who receive home care.
• Most abuse cases involve nonmedical aides hired to help around the house.
• Many states don’t require criminal background checks of home aides.
• Older people are sometimes afraid to report abuse.
Killings by home-care providers remain rare, but they are only the most extreme examples of what prosecutors and advocates for the elderly say is a growing number of cases of abuse, neglect or fraud in which home caregivers take advantage of the frail and the ill. And that’s prompting calls for better oversight of an industry that’s expanding fast as more Americans age and try to avoid nursing homes.
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