Dothan Eagle. March 28, 2022.
Editorial: Shirley’s Law
In today’s edition, readers will find a short article about a man charged with theft after showing up at his mother’s house and threatening to hurt her if she didn’t return his cell phone. The mother had previously banished the son from her residence.
This is the face of elder abuse, which takes many forms and happens far more often than many people realize. Every day older people are cheated on, robbed, neglected or physically attacked, often by family members or people they trust.
Elder abuse is on the rise, according to the state, with 11,122 reports of abuse last year, including physical abuse, neglect and financial abuse, though the actual numbers are likely higher. Many cases, especially of a financial nature, often go unreported because the victims are embarrassed.
Recently, the Alabama legislature took action to combat this societal blight, creating a new database to track the names of anyone convicted of elder abuse. The impetus for Shirley’s Law stems from the efforts of Jo Holcombe, whose mother, Shirley Holcombe, was the victim of forgery by a caretaker.
The Shirley’s Law Registry provides a database that families can consult when considering candidates to care for elderly loved ones.
Although the database is not a panacea, it will provide a valuable tool to help mitigate the possibility of elder abuse.
However, there is no substitute for the diligent attention of family members and friends, who should be aware of the possibility of abuse, watch for signs, and report incidents to authorities.
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