Family recognition key in elderly abuse case

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - New developments after two caregivers are arrested for abuse at an elderly care center.

It happened Wednesday at Asterion Acres home center near Ina and Camino de la Tierra.

Pima County deputies say Annuhar Ruiz and Elisa Moreno repeatedly hit a 93- year- old woman over a period of weeks.

The investigation continues.  But we're learning that the system for exposing this kind of abuse worked the way it was supposed to.

Authorities say it worked because the staff at Asterion Acres apparently did the right thing. They were the ones who notified the authorities as soon as the alleged abuse was brought to their attention.

That's not to say things can't improve at Asterion Acres; though elder abuse officials are lauding the efforts of the facility for acting as quickly as they did.

As we understand it, two different employees -- on separate, but multiple occasions -- abused a 93 year old patient here.

We're told she was struck repeatedly: sometimes with a closed fist, other times with objects like a TV remote.

She was also reportedly thrown onto her bed and into her wheelchair on different occasions.

Family members noticed her injuries and reportedly told the staff at Asterion Acres.

The staff then contacted the Pima County Sheriff's Department, which promptly arrested 29 year old Annuhar Ruiz and 67 year old Elisa Romero on a series of felony-abuse charges.

"We wind up depending a lot on complaints from family members," says Stew Grabel of the Pima Council on Aging, a local agency that works in collaboration with law enforcement.

"They can serve as eyes and ears and they can contact us or Adult Protective Services or the police department.  Again, if it's a criminal act like this case we're talking about, they should go directly to the police," Grabel says.

All told there at least 350 elderly care facilities in Pima County.

And that's just the licensed ones.

That said, it's critically important for the public to be the eyes and ears of these enforcement agencies.

They can't be everywhere at all times.

But they want to know about any cases of elderly abuse.

If you hear of or suspect anything, they want to hear from you immediately.

In emergency situations, call 911.

Otherwise you can contact Arizona's Taskforce Against Senior Abuse at 800-352-8431.

You can also call the Pima Council on Aging hotline at 520-790-7262.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.