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Investigation into elder abuse shows pattern of behavior

A man native to New York who spent decades in Florida is being investigated in the Sunshine State in connection to the recent death of an elderly relative. The suspect and his wife arrived in his native state from Florida last summer to act as caregivers for his 95-year-old grandmother, who was suffering from dementia.

Police describe the death as a "mercy" killing as the suspect's grandmother slid further into confusion, increasingly unable to take care of herself. They allege the suspect choked the victim to death to avoid committing her to a nursing home.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is possible among professional caregivers and acquaintances, but the majority of reported cases of elder abuse occur in the victims' homes, often at the hands of family members turned caregivers in a stressful situation.

The death was originally considered natural, although later evidence was discovered that she was strangled. The suspect and his wife are also charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence in connection to the towel they allegedly used to kill the elderly woman.

The suspect has a history of abuse-related violence in Florida, where he was charged with felony child abuse but convicted only of violating a protection order. Patterns of abusive behavior may also indicate a propensity for elder abuse during the stress of long-term care.

Elderly people in need of care have rights to protect themselves from abuse in nursing homes and other care environments. Victims and their families should be ready to speak up against elder abuse, wherever it is happening.

Source: Glen Falls (NY) Post-Star, "Local police travel to Florida for murder investigation," Don Lehman, July 20, 2017

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