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Police Interviewing of Elderly Victims and Witnesses NYC Elder Abuse Training Project, 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Police Interviewing of Elderly Victims and Witnesses NYC Elder Abuse Training Project, 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Police Interviewing of Elderly Victims and Witnesses NYC Elder Abuse Training Project, 2004

2 If Mentally or Physically Impaired Vulnerable to criminals May seem difficult to interview – Communication impairment – Loss of attention

3 Aids to Interviewing Current skills: – Courtesy – Patience – Active listening Knowledge about conditions affecting seniors

4 Elderly Victims Often Traumatized by abuse Ambivalent about acknowledging abuse Confused May fear police

5 Positive Aspects Most regard police as “good guys” Build on this to gain trust Simple courtesies help gain respect

6 Suggestions Ask permission to sit near older person at eye level Keep weapon out of sight Is victim tired or not feeling well? Address elder by last name Convey that your primary concern is his/her welfare

7 More suggestions Begin with friendly questions Speak slowly and clearly in short, simple sentences Ask one question at a time Avoid leading questions

8 More suggestions Older persons may need more time to respond than younger victims; wait for response If elder appears disoriented, ask 4 questions (see slide 19) If the elder has difficulty remembering when an event occurred, try memory cues, e.g., “What tv program was on?”

9 Strategies for hearing impaired Having difficulty hearing? Use a hearing aid? Prefer written communication?

10 Hearing impaired (continued) Let person see your lips, face, hands Eliminate most background noise Remain 3 to 6 feet away Don’t speak directly into ear Establish eye contact before you speak

11 Hearing impaired (continued) Speak slightly louder; don’t yell Don’t speed up or over-articulate If person seems not to understand, re-phrase instead of repeating If you don’t understand, ask person to re- phrase Use visual aids (drawings, etc.)

12 Strategies for visually impaired Ask if they need reading glasses Use larger type, e.g. 14pt Keep message short and simple

13 Visually impaired (continued) Move text between edge and center of the person’s field of vision – People with Macular Degeneration have peripheral vision Can’t see directly in front Won’t look directly at you

14 Dual sensory impairment If poor vision and hearing, use all strategies except visual cues If blind and deaf, use interpreter – Impartial – Not family member or caregiver

15 Background on dementias Dementia = gradual deterioration in cognitive functioning Symptoms include: – impaired memory and perception – decreased decision-making abilities

16 Alzheimer’s disease Most prevalent form of dementia Culminates in total dependency Agitation and wandering common In mid to later stages, psychosis in 50-80% – Paranoia – Delusions – Hallucinations

17 Dementia Not part of normal aging 5-8% of those over 65 Dementia-like symptoms can be caused by delirium or depression, but most dementia irreversible (progressive). Medical exam can rule out other causes

18 Problems for police Assess allegations by demented person of theft or intrusion; they may be true “Masking” = person with recall problem who may say “I don’t have time for this”

19 Mental Status: Orientation Questions What is your name? Where do you live? What is the month? Who is the President?

20 Communicating with Dementia- Sufferer May be lucid and provide good info Consult service provider familiar with person for tips “Sundowning” = result of cumulative stimulation during course of a day – Usually shows late in day – Agitation (e.g., pacing, loud vocalizing, combativeness) – Postpone interview

21 Strategies for Interview with Dementia Sufferer Keep area quiet and free of distractions Begin with orienting info (e.g., purpose of interview) Offer words of reassurance Relax; they can sense anxiety Acknowledge person’s feelings

22 Strategies for Interview with Dementia Sufferer (continued) Speak slowly in soothing tone, but avoid infantilizing Give person ample time to respond Use simple and concrete words Give simple directions, one step at a time

23 Strategies for Interview with Dementia Sufferer (continued) Repeat questions as needed If person upset, try distraction or redirection to calm and refocus Observe reactions; emotional responses may reveal what words don’t (e.g., abuse)

24 Misuse of Medications Common Can cause confusion and disorientation Abusers often drug elderly victims Check what meds person takes; ask to see bottles; record info Ask if other MDs prescribe; ask if person takes over-the-counter meds

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