Federal grant combats elderly abuse in Texas

Could impact 29,000 seniors in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Texas Adult Protective Services a $907,000 grant to combat abuse of the elderly, one of the most underreported crimes.

There were 58,068 confirmed cases of elderly abuse in Texas in 2011, according to APS.

The grant money will be used to embed two APS workers into WellMed clinics that serve roughly 29,000 seniors in San Antonio.

WellMed also has clinics in El Paso, Corpus Christi, Austin and The Rio Grande Valley which are expected to benefit from the grant as well.

The money will allow two APS workers to be embedded in WellMed clinics to educate and train doctors and nurses on how to detect and report elderly abuse.

"When they're in the clinics, they're going to be able to use a screening tool to screen for abuse and neglect of elders," said Joann Tobias Molina, regional director of TX APS.

Molina adds that often the elderly feel more comfortable reporting problems to their doctors than family or authorities.

"A lot of our senior patients have a tremendous respect for family and feel that its not appropriate to talk about what happens at home," said WellMed Dr. Barbie Lopez. "They aren't sure if its abuse. They kind of think its normal."

Often times, it's people close to the victims who are taking advantage of them.

Using a screening questionnaire, APS hopes to be able to prevent abuse as well.

The grant money will be used over a three year period.

A timeline is still being developed for when APS workers will arrive in the clinics.


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