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Neglect leads list of adult care facility failings

Almost half of all substantiated cases of abuse of dependent adults in Jackson County last year were in care facilities, according to state data provided to the Mail Tribune.

According to 2013 numbers provided by the Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations, 99 of 214 substantiated investigations took place in adult care facilities. Of those, 65 cases were attributed to simple neglect and 13 to financial exploitation. Only nine substantiated cases of abuse were physical and two were sexual.

"I would say that usually these cases are at a level that can be directly addressed with the facility management," said Dave Toler, director of Senior and Disability Services for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments. "When it reaches (a criminal) level, we do what can to facilitate the investigative process."

There are basic questions family members should be asking their loved ones when they visit, he said: How is the food? What kind of things are they eating? Are they able to get assistance when they need it?

"If you don't think about it, if you don't ask, you're not going to get that kind of information," he said. "It's often a very tricky situation. How do you ask about financial things?"

Medford police Detective Sgt. Brent Mak, who heads the department's Financial Investigations Section, said that law enforcement officers typically get good cooperation from the management of local adult care facilities during investigations. It's rare, he said, to find facility supervisors engaged in significant exploitation of those in their care.

"We had a case several years ago," he said. "It was a local foster care provider who had, I believe, four people living in the house."

Three of the four had family members looking out for their finances. The fourth was taken advantage of.

"He was able to scam her for about $100,000," Mak said, stressing that it's important for family members to check their dependent's financial arrangements line by line.

"The things most commonly stolen are jewelry and cash," he said. "Checks we can trace."

Mak said that a misplaced dollar or $5 bill is too often attributed to a slipping memory. "That can easily turn into $20 to $50 to $100," he said. 

If  you have a parent or relative living in a care facility, they also don't need their good jewelry, he said. "If they want it with them, take an inventory with photos and good descriptions."

Reach reporter Thomas Moriarty at 541-776-4471, or by email at tmoriarty@mailtribune.com. Follow him at @ThomasDMoriarty.