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Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Abuse Cases Highlight Home Caregiver Peril

By Kristina Davis

A World War II veteran neglected and living in squalor in his East County home.

An elderly Rancho Bernardo man slain after being scammed out of a half-million dollars.

A blind couple suffering from dementia duped into signing over their Cardiff house.

In each case, in-home caregivers have been charged criminally for the abuse.

And now, two caregivers have been charged with punching, kicking and shoving a young autistic man hundreds of times at his family’s home in Valley Center.

Law enforcement and health care advocates in San Diego County say such cases underscore the lack of regulations for home caregivers who are tasked with watching over one of society’s most vulnerable populations.

“We have victims who can’t advocate for themselves,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Varnau of the department’s elder abuse unit. “These people are prisoners in their own homes. There is no way to summon aid, no ability to pick up the phone, sometimes they are medicated or overmedicated and confined to beds.”

Such was the case with 23-year-old Jamey Oakley, the severely autistic, nonverbal victim who had no way to communicate the alleged abuse he was suffering when left alone with two of his caregivers.

Michael Dale Garritson, 61, and Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 27, were charged with abuse Wednesday after secret video recordings made in July and August showed hundreds of incidents over a three-week period, authorities said.

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