Most of the reported cases of elder abuse in this area have to do with “self-neglect,” said Kate Kenna, regional director of Northeast Human Service Center which covers four North Dakota counties — Grand Forks, Walsh, Nelson and Pembina.
For the nine months leading up to June 30, she said, reported cases fell into these categories:
35: Self-neglect (hygiene, moldy food, going without basic substances)
7: Physical abuse
4: Financial exploitation
In cases of self-neglect, “neighbors, the family, friends or pastors may be trying to help, but it feels bigger than what they can handle,” Kenna said.
In cases of neglect, someone else is responsible for the elderly person’s welfare, but is not stepping up, she said.
“When the calls come in, our staff member asks a few screening questions. If the person is in imminent danger, we’d want to get out there right away. We may involve law enforcement.”
Police or sheriff’s officers would determine if a crime has been committed, she said. If so, the matter becomes a criminal case.
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