State Doing Poor Job Caring For Elderly - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/21/04

State Doing Poor Job Caring For Elderly

by Donna McCollum

A disturbing report says Texas Adult Protective Services must do a better job of caring for senior adults. The investigation came after insufficient case investigations were discovered in El Paso.

The report issued by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (Click here to visit their Web site) showed problems with training, staffing, and organization are to blame for residents being left in homes without water or power, and filled with excrement. The investigation was under executive order. Governor Perry says the review is a first step toward fixing the problems.

Social worker Sandra Johnson is hopeful that will happen. As she walks into a client's home, she's pleased to see them happy and complimentary of their caregiver. After ten years of serving the elderly, Johnson knows that's not how every senior adult lives.

"I see a lot of poverty, a lot of isolation, and a lot of fear that senior adults have. And a lot of the conditions they're living in are deplorable," said Johnson.

Johnson works for Love In the Name of Christ Eldercare. She refers extreme abuse, neglect, and exploitation cases to the state Adult Protective Services.

The state report reveals that many of those cases were sometimes closed after being called "lifestyle choices". To explain how this can happen, Johnson shares the story of a former client. "She was determined to stay at home because what she had at home with the floor falling in and all of that she wanted to stay at home with the family and that's what they're up against," recalled Johnson.

Johnson knows many seniors are like Katherine Mooney, who wants to live at home. Caregivers allow Mrs Mooney to achieve this.

Johnson knows many rural seniors are extremely independent. She wants social workers to learn how to maintain that independence for senior adults without ignoring their needs.

"These workers need to be really in tune and educated to the rural component and how to work with rural individuals because I think there's difference in how to do that. They're extremely independent," said Johnson.

Johnson is hopeful the state investigation will spotlight the need to provide for the elderly.

"As long as they have life and breath, they are important to us. They are our greatest generation," believes Johnson.

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