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Springs woman avoids prison in elder abuse case

Published On: Feb 27 2014 11:18:34 AM CST
Updated On: Apr 14 2014 06:06:03 PM CDT

Suspect, 66, was caretaker for mother, 98. The victim died last month.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A 66-year-old woman has been sentenced after the death of her 98-year-old mother revealed a disturbing case of elder abuse.

Jeanne Hagio, 66, was sentenced to a four year deferred sentence, unsupervised probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to charges of neglect and crimes against at risk adults.

Yuta Hagio, 98, was found dead on the floor of the bathroom at her home in the 2400 block of Flintridge Drive in January, 2014. Jeanne Hagio was her daughter and caregiver.

Police said Yuta Hagio died of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and was dehydrated.  There was no indication of how long she had been dead before she was found the morning of Jan. 13.

Yuta Hagio appeared to have been lying on the bathroom floor for at least two weeks, had sores on her back and was consuming only two cans of soda every day, police said, adding that she weighed just 64 pounds when she was found.

During the investigation into Yuta Hagio's death, police said she had not had solid food in over three weeks, had not had a shower or bath in two months and she had been wearing the same shirt for at least a month.

The only food in the home, police said, was in the freezer and not easily edible.

Police said conditions in the home were so bad -- with trash piled several feet high and feces from dogs, cats, rats and mice -- that Colorado Springs Code Enforcement condemned the house and the Pikes Peak Humane Society took possession of a rabbit and two cats.

One cat was returned to Jeanne Hagio but the remaining animals were euthanized.

Police said Jeanne Hagio had been her mother's caregiver for 20 years but her mother hadn't seen a doctor in seven years and wasn't on medication.  A dermatologist consulted by police said a 98-year-old woman should be seeing a doctor regularly.

Jeanne Hagio believed she provided an acceptable standard of care to her mother, police said.

Kent Mathews, a social worker with the Area Agency on Aging, said it's difficult to understand how such a situation could happen, but there are many factors involved.

"We don't know what the relationship was between mother and daughter," he said.  "Maybe the mother didn't want care.  This is an extreme case, but I'm not totally surprised.  Pride, shame, guilt and family dynamics can get in the way of a caregiver seeking help.  It's difficult for caregivers to reach out.  If they do, they may think it means they're not doing a good job."

Mathews said people shouldn't criticize Jeanne Hagio because many don't understand how difficult caring for an aging loved one can be.

"Caregivers are at physical and mental risk in terms of depression and anxiety," he said.  "They're often sleep-deprived." 

Several neighbors said they were unaware of Yuta Hagio's death and the circumstances surrounding it.

The Colorado Springs Police Department said its Crimes Against Elders Unit investigates as many as 40 such cases every year, but few are so serious. 

Police want to remind the public that there are resources available for caretakers and anyone who suspects elder abuse should call police at 719-444-7000.  You can also leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP (7867).

You also can contact the Area Agency on Aging for more information.  Visit: http://www.ppacg.org/programs/area-agency-on-aging.

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