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Seen At 11: Home Aide Services Under Fire For Putting The Elderly At Risk

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- It is a challenge faced by many families; keeping elderly loved ones living in their own homes.

One Staten Island family said that they tried to do just that, but claim that the home health care aides that they relied on to care for their father put his life at risk.

Peter Mazza, 99, was left under the care of home health aides that his children say terrified and abused him.

"It's still pretty hard to deal with," Steven Mazza said.

The Mazzas said that all their father wanted was to live his last days in his own home.

"We tried our best to give him the ending that he wanted," Mazza said.

It was anything but. In one video the aide refused to help Peter after he fell, another aide shoved him into bed and wrapped him in a blanket.

"I was in disbelief with it. I couldn't believe it was really happening. That anybody could treat another human being that way," Mazza said.

Peter is supposed to be assisted when he walks, but one aide stayed on the couch and watched him fall.

The aide did not call 911 and Peter was later found to have suffered fractured ribs and a head injury. He died in a nursing home two months later.

"Now as time goes on it's hard. Now it's a lot harder," daughter Carol Ann Mazza told CBS 2's Kristine Johnson.

Nearly 4 million elderly Americans are abused every year, but experts say finding good home health care is particularly difficult. Agencies are licensed by the state, but there is little oversight, and complaints about the agencies are not available to the public.

"There's no real way for people to know whether they're dealing with the right agency," Geriatric Care Manager, Jack Halpern explained.

Halpern said that families have to do their own screening, and said to ask for references, interview the aide in the home, and to check for online reviews.

The agency that provided the Mazza's aides refused to do an interview, but in a statement said that, "The visiting nurse service of New York and Partners In Care have zero tolerance for any staff member who violates our mission to care for this city's vulnerable populations."

The Mazzas said that they did the best they could for their father, and that now, the only way to make sense of his ordeal is to warn others.

"It's horrible he's gone, but if we could save one other life then we honored him. We made him happy," Mazza said.

Visiting Nurse Service of New York said the aide who watched Mr. Mazza fall was fired immediately. Two other aides were suspended and are under investigation.

The Mazzas have filed a lawsuit against the agency and Partners In Care.

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