SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The collaboration of agencies and resources to protect older and disabled adults that we see locally could soon be the standard across Georgia.
That's all the goal of House Bill 635, now working its way into the state Senate.
Locally, the Chatham District Attorney's Office has actually had a prosecutor dedicated to crimes against the elderly and disabled people since 2005.
District Attorney Meg Heap was the first to fill the role.
"It's actually jaw-dropping in terms of the crime that was out there that was not being investigated," Heap said.
They are now, though, and Heap said progress has been made through awareness and education.
With the introduction of House Bill 635, we could soon see that level of awareness and communication between agencies trying to protect the elderly and disabled people rise.
"Elder abuse is becoming a very, I wouldn't say popular, but more widely-known issue. So it's great to see that finally, we're getting the awareness and attention that it needs," said Assistant District Attorney Lindy Moody.
Moody heads up prosecution of crimes against the elderly, disabled adults and children for Chatham County. She says the most common crime they see committed against the elderly and disabled adults are financial crimes.
"That's going to be family members, caregivers that use their means and their role to take money from the victim," Moody explained.
District Attorney Heap said there are ways to prevent that from happening.
"If one person is doing the caregiving in terms of physical needs, separate it and have somebody else take care of the financial. That dichotomy maybe keeps at bay any type of financial exploitation. The other thing I would say, if you have a senior, a mother a father or an aunt, if they're in a home, maybe a nursing home, go visit often, at different times, because if you come at the same time every time, or if you show up and they have a caregiver, they're going to expect you," Heap said.
To learn more about elder abuse prevention, and community partnerships, look click the following link.