You may have seen a rather outrageous story passed around the internet recently about a registered nurse who left a 95-year-old dementia patient in her car for over 2 hours while she gambled at a casino.

Authorities took the elder to a hospital for observation after a woman saw her sitting in the car and called the police. Doctors say she showed no signs of distress – likely because of her dementia – but needed observation for some time. Police charged the caregiver with neglect.

Elder neglect is a very dangerous crime, especially when the elder has dementia. Age increases the risks for dehydration and overheating. Dementia can cause the elder to walk off, even into the street, without realizing the dangers.

The woman charged with neglect says she’s a registered nurse, but unfortunately this crime happens all the time whether the caregiver is a registered health professional or close family member.

In fact, the overwhelming majority – two thirds – of elder neglect cases in Tennessee occur within the home and are perpetrated by family members. State officials believe that closeness of relation may explain in part why only 1 in 23 elder abuse cases in Tennessee are reported.

Thank God for the woman who called the police on behalf of the 95-year-old victim left in the car. May we all be so responsive when we see vulnerable people being treated in a neglectful way. Clearly, the best way to stop elder neglect in our community is to report it if we see it. That phone call could mean life or death.

Remember, if a loved one has been injured by someone else’s neglect, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers can help you with an elder neglect case. Contact us today to talk with an attorney at no charge.