An 83-year-old Israeli woman was found locked in a Tel Aviv warehouse with bruises covering her body after her caregiver allegedly abused her and imprisoned her there.
Israeli police announced that the caregiver, a 37-year-old foreign worker from Uzbekistan, was arrested on suspicion of abuse and kidnapping after nearby locals heard the elderly woman’s cries for help and found her detained in the old warehouse.
The caregiver, who has denied any wrongdoing, is a suspect in at least two cases of assault. The Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv last night extended her detention until Wednesday.
"I never hit her," the caregiver told Israeli media. "I made a mistake by taking her with me to another job. I didn't imprison her,” explaining that she works as a housekeeper in her spare time and took the elderly woman with her to her cleaning job so as to not leave her alone.
As for her visible bruises and injuries, the caregiver asserted that “the injuries she has are the result of a fall."
“A normal person doesn't do things like that”
Tiki and Shlomo Bacher, tenants of a residential building adjacent to the warehouse, found the elderly woman and immediately called the police. "I opened the door and got scared. Suddenly I saw a figure in a wheelchair," Shlomo told Ynet. "Her head was wrapped in a scarf and the face was towards the wall.”
“This is a woman I have known for more than 40 years. For 20 years we used to take walks together in the neighborhood,” explained Tiki Bacher. “She was very active, a brilliant woman and now that she is in her condition, this is how she is being treated? Our hearts are broken.”
Another neighbor who knows the elderly woman and her husband expressed his shock at the case: "I'm shocked. It's unbelievable that things like this happen. You leave a person with a caregiver and think he's taking care of him, and you trust him," the man told Walla. "It could have ended much worse… A normal person doesn't do things like that."
Caregivers in Israel
With an aging population and a shortage of staff to provide caregiving services to elderly Israelis, many foreign caregivers have come to Israel in order to provide assisted at-home living for Israel’s dependent seniors.
Israel’s Health Ministry announced in October that geriatric hospitals can accept foreign workers as caregivers. Permits were only issued to foreign healthcare workers for home nursing previous to the change.
Abuse of elders by caregivers has been an issue in Israel for some time. Some 7,772 cases of elder abuse were reported by Israelis in 2021, marking a 3.5% increase from 2020. The ministry added that the most common forms of abuse reported by senior citizens were mental abuse (28%), neglect (28%), physical abuse (16%) and economic exploitation (15%), the report added.