Protecting the elderly

Robert Tracci 
Photo by Jen Fariello Robert Tracci Photo by Jen Fariello

Elder abuse isn’t always physical, says Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci, who describes a case that recently came through his office.

An at-home care provider hired an employee who stole more than $20,000 worth of valuables from an elderly client. The employee sold the family heirlooms to a pawn shop and melted some down for gold before the theft was reported, according to Tracci.

“If she received $12,000 from area pawn shops, the value of the items stolen was at least twice or three times that value,” Tracci says.

Elder abuse has many faces, including physical, mental, emotional, financial and sexual abuse, according to the prosecutor. Tracci and a slew of partners—including Charlottesville’s Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, elder law attorney Doris Gelbman, city, county and state police, nursing homes, hospitals, area banks, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Adult Protective Services—announced the creation of the Jefferson Area Coalition to End Elder Abuse June 15.

“Senior citizens are sometimes reluctant to freely report abuse or mistreatment because their caretaker or even family member may retaliate against them,” Tracci says. “We cannot control whether we age, but we must ensure our seniors are permitted to live with the security and dignity they deserve.”

The JACEEA will work to “promote the dignity and security” of senior citizens and make Central Virginia among the safest places to retire.