Advocates Say Crimes Against Elderly Trending Up

As a generation ages, no longer are health and well-being the only things it must be concerned with.

Advocates for the elderly said more and more often, vulnerability to crime is getting closer to the top of that list.

At the Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging, Assistant Aging Director Mary Crowley-Schmidt said two criminal cases in Lexington from this week are reminiscent of a national trend.

"There’s a national trend for it to increase and we’re not sure if that’s because the number of seniors is getting more, whether the crimes are happening more often or that we’re being successful in raising awareness about those crimes,” said Crowley-Schmidt.

From this past Christmas to just after the first of the year, police said Tiffany Whitaker stole checks from an 85-year-old man in need of extra assistance caring for his wife, who at that time had recently suffered a stroke.

Police said the damage was nearly $1,000, and they said Whitaker admitted to stealing and writing the checks for drugs.

She’s charged with exploitation of an adult.

In another case, police said Karlen Jett stole nearly $7,000 from the 84-year-old she was caring for not including family heirloom jewelry she’s accused of pawning for money.

Jett, too, is charged with multiple counts of the exploitation of an adult.

Crowley-Schmidt deals with law enforcement in these criminal cases, finding ways to prevent crimes against the elderly.

"We do referrals back and forth; we do visits with him, that kind of thing and just provide resources where the police department doesn’t have them."

And there are more outlets online, the agency has resources on its website on how to take prevention and caution into your own hands.

Step-by-step instructions on how to get a background check done, consumer tips, and how to interview a prospective caregiver.

Another possible solution gets the General Assembly involved. 

The move would amend Senate Bill 98 which relates to adult abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The amendment would allow the elderly to find out if someone assisting them with services has been the subject of a valid finding of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

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