As the population grows older, many elders face the difficult challenges of aging, such as declining health, long-term care planning, asset protection and other financial concerns.
The practice of elder law is designed to assist seniors with meeting these challenges and give them peace of mind knowing they will age with dignity. This may include planning for long-term care especially if the elders need assistance with daily tasks of living including dressing, feeding, prescription taking, and housekeeping.
It could also include Medicaid planning which involves determining if an elder qualifies for the financial resources provided by this federal program.
Another area of elder law is elder abuse. Unfortunately, elder abuse has increased in the twenty-first century and this type of abuse can take many forms.
Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, or sexual harm inflicted on an older adult, their financial exploitation, or neglect of their welfare by people who are directly responsible for their care. Elder abuse often takes place where the elder lives: where their abusers are often adult children or other family members.
Elder abuse often takes place at an institutional setting such as a nursing home. It is unfortunate that elders in the latter part of their lives are not cared for properly or are simply mistreated or taken advantage of but the guidelines below can help you recognize the signs of elder abuse and how to report the problem.
Types of Elder Abuse that constitute legal action:
Financial Exploitation of the Informed
This is the intentional expenditure, diminution, or use by any person, including a caregiver, of the property or assets of a person with an infirmity, an adult with a disability, or a person who is aged, including but not limited to a resident of a nursing home, facility for persons with intellectual disabilities, mental health facility, or other residential facility without the express voluntary consent of the resident, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations.
This could include misuse of an elder’s personal checks, credit cards, or accounts; forging the elder’s signature, engaging in identity theft, or stealing cash, income checks, or household goods.
Cruelty to persons with Infirmities
This is the intentional or criminally negligent mistreatment or neglect, whereby unjustifiable pain, malnourishment, or suffering is caused to a person with an infirmity, and adult with a disability, or a person who is aged, including but not limited to a person who is a resident of a nursing home, facility for persons with intellectual disabilities, mental health facility, hospital, or other residential facility.
This generally involves neglect and generally involves the failure of a caretaker to fulfill their obligation. Failure to feed, give medication, or assure that the elder can use the restroom are all types of cruelty.
Simple battery of persons with infirmities
This is a battery committed against a person who is infirm, has a disability, or is aged and who is incapable of consenting to the battery due to either advanced age or unsoundness of mind, or other mental or developmental disability, regardless of the age of the victim.
This could include physical assaults such as hitting or shoving and also the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinements.
Emotional Elder Abuse
This involves the treatment of elders in ways that cause emotional or psychological pain or distress including intimidation through yelling, humiliation, habitual blaming, ignoring the elder, isolating an elder from friends or activities, and menacing the elder.
Sexual Elder Abuse
This is any contact with an elder without their consent. Such contact can include physical sex acts, forcing the elder to watch sex acts, or forcing the elder to undress.
Healthcare Fraud and Abuse
This is usually carried out by doctors, nurse, hospital personnel, or other professional care providers and can include overcharging for medical care, overmedicating, recommending fraudulent remedies for illnesses, and Medicaid fraud.
Reporting Elder Abuse
If you are an elder being abused, neglected, or exploited tell someone whether it is a doctor, friend, or trusted family member.
If you see an elder being abused or neglected, do not hesitate to report the situation.
It is important to get the elder out of the situation so they can be cared for properly.
There are also legal remedies available to assist elders experiencing elder abuse and it is important to contact an experienced elder abuse or nursing home abuse or neglect attorney.