GLASSPORT, Pa. —One in 10 older people will likely be abused this year — that’s more than 4 million people.
But in the media and society, elder abuse often goes unnoticed and is underreported.
With the help of a viewer who shared his evidence, a Channel 4 Action News investigation hopes to expose an old problem in Pennsylvania that’s expected to get worse with age. Thomas Spradlin contacted WTAE for help after he captured cellphone video of an elderly woman who was slapped in the back of the head by her daughter at the Glassport Diner. He turned the video over to the Department of Human Services, but he wanted to make sure they pursued an investigation.
“I just wasn’t satisfied with them saying they were going to send an investigator,” Spradlin said. Then he called Channel 4 Action News to help keep tabs on the case. He said he captured the abuse at the diner several weeks ago after he noticed disturbing behavior. “I saw her get up once and actually slap her (the elder woman’s) hand and was yelling at her because she was lifting a fork to her mouth without food on it, and after that, I started to tape it on my phone. I mean, it was just disgusting,” said Spradlin. During his seven-minute clip, other eyebrow-raising behavior can be seen. You can’t hear the pair’s conversation, but Spradlin said others wouldn’t want too. “She was saying ‘you’re (expletive) me off’ and I heard ‘you stupid (expletive).’ Basically, stuff like that, yelling at her like she was a child or something,” said Spradlin. Diner staff members Channel 4 Action News spoke to would not go on camera, but they said the mother has been abused by her daughter at the same table, on and off, for at least 10 years. Spradlin said there were four other people at the diner. While he regrets not speaking up during the abuse, he did not stay quiet afterwards and filed a report with the county.
Donald Grant, with Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services, said elder abuse is on the rise, with the victims age 60 and older. The abuse can take several forms, including neglect, financial exploitation and physical harm. Channel 4 showed him Spradlin’s cellphone video. Read more »