Harris County DA launches elderly abuse prevention campaign

By Courtney Gilmore - Anchor/Reporter , John Brannen - Web Editor

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Houston's elderly population continues to grow and with that comes a serious risk that they will fall victim to those who are looking to do them harm.

They are grandparents, veterans, and in some cases have raised generations, and now seniors need our help to keep them protected. The Harris County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Office, Adult Protective Services and Clear Channel have joined together to raise awareness about the issue during Elder Abuse Prevention Month. Billboards will be placed above major roadways around the county.

"These billboards and this video we hope will get the message across that elder abuse effects all walks of life, all cultures," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.

According to the 2010 Census, seniors make up 65 percent of our population and prosecutors say many of them are abused, both financially and physically.

"Look for repeated hospital or doctor visits for unexplained injuries, cuts, bruises, welts," said James Booker, with Adult Protective Services. "Exploitation cases, unusual bank accounts, activity, or getting on bank accounts."

Even if a senior lives in a residential facility it's important to monitor their treatment and behavior.

This new campaign comes on heels of the tragic deaths of two men who were living in a northwest Houston nursing home. Capital murder charges were recently filed against 56-year-old Guillermo Correa, who prosecutors say beat the victims to death with the arm of a wheelchair.

"It's not always the caregiver who is abusing. So a very unusual situation, but it certainly pertinent to this discussion we are having today," said Anderson.

The billboards will be in both English and Spanish and six of them will go up around Harris County until the end of May.

Adult Protective Services says elderly abuse is a serious issue. That agency investigated 8,000 cases in Harris County alone last year.

According to 2010 census data, approximately 8.1 percent of the population in Harris County is 65 or older – the highest mark in the state.

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