Indianapolis Elder Abuse Victims Have Resources to Turn to

Indianapolis Elder Abuse Victims Have Resources to Turn to

“The really special thing about this model is that it addresses both the need of providing care and shelter for folks but also doing so in a way that is knowledgeable and is safe,” said Han Meadway, director of the Shalom Sanctuary Center. The Shalom Center will provide the same care to abuse victims as it does for other residents, whether they need an assisted living apartment or memory care, offering one of the facility’s empty beds to them.

Now in Indianapolis, these seniors who cannot remain in their own homes will have a safe haven: the Shalom Sanctuary Center for Elder Abuse at Hooverwood Living, which opened in June on the north side of Indianapolis. Hooverwood will provide space in its nursing home or assisted living facility for seniors who require temporary housing. Typically the facility runs at about 95% occupancy, meaning there’s usually a vacant room should a crisis arise. About 15 other sites across the country have similar programs, said Hooverwood executive director Evan Lubline, who decided to start such a program after hearing about a similar elder shelter in New York.

Years ago Indianapolis had a similar program at the Marion County Health Center, which would offer people in need temporary space and the services of staff when it came time for discharge planning, said Doug May, a co-founder. In the early 1990s, the shelter closed because it had no revenue stream to pay for itself and the city commissioners at the time no longer wanted to support it, May said. In the six to seven years the program ran, it served about 100 people total, helping about 10 to 12 a year. The new program will likely see even more clients, as the number of seniors in the areas has blossomed, May said.

“The need has to have exponentially increased with the population growth,” he said. “To me this marks a new continuum of care that has been missing in Indiana.” Finding an alternative place for elder abuse victims can prove challenging and sometimes there’s no option other than letting them stay in an unsafe environment, said Andrea Qualitza, director of adult protective services for unit 8, which encompasses Marion County. While domestic violence shelters often harbor abuse victims, seniors often have needs beyond those typically addressed at these facilities from mild cognitive disabilities to more serious medical conditions. Other seniors may wind up spending longer than necessary stints in the hospital, while social workers search for appropriate placements, those in the field say.

“That leaves us in a bind,” Qualitza said. “This shelter pretty much provides the appropriate level of care for our victims and fills in that much-needed gap for a short-term safe environment.” In some instances having this alternative will allow the adult protective investigator to do more research to see whether criminal charges need to be brought. Elder abuse cases can range from physical abuse to financial abuse. Often times the abusers may be caregivers, including caregiver relatives, whom the senior may not view as an abuser. One recent case entailed an adult son who was caring for his mother who had dementia, Qualitza said. When he went to work, he would confine her in her bedroom tethered to her bed without food and water so she would not leave the home and get lost. She had no physical signs of neglect or abuse but would be a perfect candidate for a program such as this, Qualitza said.

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