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Omaha – Omaha Police Department Detective Richard Belik was presented Friday (6/20) with the first annual Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate of the Year award for eastern Nebraska by the Department of Health and Human Services for persistently pursuing those who financially victimize elderly victims.
Camas Steuter, Eastern Service Area administrator for Children and Family Services, made the presentation at the offices of the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. The award was presented as a part of DHHS’ observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Steuter said Belik has been instrumental in assisting DHHS Adult Protective Services with financial exploitation cases.
“He regularly attends bi-monthly prosecution team meetings and identifies many cases to investigate,” Steuter said. “He works diligently on our cases and always keeps us informed of his progress. Detective Belik really listens to us and he truly cares about the elderly who are victimized.”
She added that it’s not unusual for Belik to call about an old case while seeking justice for a victim. “He never forgets those who are victims, and he’s constantly looking for openings to a case.”
The Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate of the Year award is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services to recognize Nebraskans across the state who work to protect the elderly.
“The work of many Nebraskans to increase awareness of the signs of elder abuse is important to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect,” said Thomas Pristow, director of Children and Family Services. “It’s a partnership and we need everyone’s help to identify those who may need our assistance. During this observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness we want all Nebraskans to take extra time and observe the elderly around them to ensure they are physically, mentally and financially healthy and report it to the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline if they aren’t. It’s our responsibility.”
“Our elderly deserve no less than our best protection,” said Courtney Miller, deputy director of programs in Medicaid and Long-Term Care. “When friends and loved ones recognize those signs and report it, then we’re able to help them protect the well-being of Nebraska’s elderly citizens.”
Steuter encouraged Nebraskans to watch for elder abuse and urged those who suspect it has occurred to call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-652-1999. Among the signs of elder abuse, are:
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, or broken bones, sprains, or dislocations.
- Bruises around breasts or genitals, or torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration.
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores, and unsanitary living conditions like dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes.
- Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts, or sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition.
- Items or cash missing from the senior’s household.
- Problems with the care facility: poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient staff; crowding; inadequate responses to questions about care.
- Reports of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should).
If abuse is suspected, call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-652-1999. The call may be anonymous.
Other recipients of the Elder Abuse Prevention of the Year award, include: Lily Hans, southeast Nebraska; Michael Dehart, southeast Nebraska; Thelma Whitewater, northeast Nebraska; Sheila Kennedy, central Nebraska; and Lincoln Police Department Investigator Cindy Koenig-Warnke, for her contributions to the state.