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TV show focuses on elder abuse

August 5, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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A few weeks ago I saw a promo for an upcoming Dr. Phil show about elder abuse. I was surprised that his show would be devoted to that topic.

On the show Dr. Phil interviewed the daughter and son of a couple in their 80s. Their father was already in a nursing home and the son cared for his mother in her apartment (with some government-funded caregivers).

The daughter accused her brother of abusing their parents and mishandling their funds. The brother countered that his sister received a $100,000 business "startup" loan from her parents a few years before. The daughter claimed that it was her inheritance, which she was not required to repay. Then she admitted her business failed during the recession and she lost her parents' investment.

Since Dr. Phil could not get the pair to stop making accusations and admit to the truth, he could not help them. Their stories emphasized how adult children can take advantage of their elderly parents. Dr. Phil emphasized that the daughter and son should not have used their parents precious funds, but that those funds should have been preserved to provide for their parents’ care.

Later in the show, a segment followed about nursing home abuse. A woman whose 92-year-old mother lived in a nursing home showed photos she took as evidence of her mother's neglect and abuse there. The photos showed bruises all over her mother.

The daughter also found her mother soiled and had requested an aide give her a shower. Instead, she watched the aide wipe her mother off with a wet towel. The daughter felt that care was one of the reasons her mother had bedsores.

At first, the daughter did not know what to do about the abuse. She reported it to her mother's doctor. Then she was referred to the government agencies mandated to deal with nursing home abuse.

However, the daughter received letters that said the facility was run according to state and federal guidelines. She was told she had insufficient evidence to prove her mother was being abused. Facility staff claimed her mother's combativeness caused bruises during regular care.

The Dr. Phil staff checked out the nursing home and discovered that it had several citations in the last two surveys. The producers asked the nursing home in question to contribute to the show, but it declined.

When her mother's injuries required her to go to the ER, a nurse told the daughter her mother should be moved from the nursing home. The daughter had no idea she could do that. Consequently, she moved her mother to another facility where she appears to be getting better care.

An elder advocate (from a nonprofit organization) was in the audience. She said the daughter went through the proper channels to report her mother's abuse. But the daughter stated that her claims of her mother's abuse were ignored for too long.

At the show's end, text appeared offering condolences to the controversial brother and sister who were Dr Phil’s first guest that day. Their mother passed away a week after the show was taped.

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...