Elder Abuse Registry led by a mother’s daughter

Published 5:54 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Jo Holcombe was satisfied that her elderly mother, Shirley, was being well cared for by her caregiver. She was receiving special care and had found companionship in her caregiver.

Then, one day, in October 2017, Jo Holcombe visited her mother’s bank and learned that the trusted caretaker was forging her mother’s checks.

“Not only was she taking money from my mother, she was also violating my mother’s trust in her and ours as well,” Holcombe told the members of the Pike County Republican Party at its March meeting. “And she stole my mother’s peace of mind and the security of being safe in her own home.  I couldn’t and can’t forgive her for that.”

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Holcombe said what had been stolen from her mother was a heavy burden for her to carry.

After her mom died in 2018, she dedicated her time and efforts to making sure others would not have to go through the anguish caused by elder abuse.

“If there had been an elder abuse registry, we could have known about the caretaker we had entrusted to my mother and saved her so much disappointment and heartache,” Holcombe said.

Jo Holcombe contacted Rep. Victor Gaston of Mobile and shared with him the devastating effects elder abuse had on her mother during the waning time of her life and also on her loved ones.  Gaston joined Holcombe in her commitment to the creation of an elder abuse registry in Alabama.

In March 2023, Governor Kay Ivey signed the law to create an elderly abuse registry in Alabama.  The law is named Shirley’s Law in remembrance and honor of Holcombe’s mother.

The registry will include the names of those convicted of mistreating senior citizens.

“That should help reduce the number of those who are abused by caregivers in whom they have put their trust,” Holcombe said.

The registry will be available so family members can know if a person being considered for a job involving older adults has ever been convicted of elder abuse. The registry will also provide information about those who have come under protection orders for elder abuse.

Those who have concerns about one who is applying for a caretaker’s position or is employed and suspected of abuse, neglect or exploitation, should call the local Department of Human Services or call the DHR hotline at 1-800-485-7214.

Holcombe said the creation of an Alabama elder registry is a huge step in protecting those who require special care and she is so thankful and appreciative of those who have worked for and supported the creation of an elderly abuse registry in Alabama

“However, more needs to be done,” Holcombe said, adding that we live in a mobile society so, a national registry is needed to protect elderly citizen from abusers, no matter where they are or where they go.”