Elder abuse is a heinous offense that can attract criminal, civil, and moral charges. Victims of elder abuse vary by status, gender, background, and age. While institutional elder abuse is commonly heard of, domestic elder abuse is also rising over the past few decades. If you suspect your elderly neighbor or relative is going through abuse, it’s the best time to look for an elder abuse attorney near me.
Elder abuse can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. While some stringent laws and rules safeguard an elder’s rights and interests, most elder abuse cases go unreported.
According to a report by the National Institute of Health, only one in fourteen cases of elder abuse is reported. The NCA (National Council of Aging) report suggests that over five million older adults are subjected to elder abuse every year. The looming uncertainty created by the Coronavirus pandemic has given rise to elder abuse cases.
Elder abuse can range from financial, psychological, emotional, physical, or sexual offenses. Negligence and abandonment are also considered elder abuse and punishable by elder law. Elder abuse can physically, emotionally, financially, or psychologically impact an elderly victim.
Older people are already vulnerable to abuse and financial fraud.
The current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and various social distancing and isolation norms have disproportionately affected elders. This has made it easier for abusers to escape unnoticed.
Some signs that indicate elder abuse by a caregiver or family member:
- Substance abuse by the family member or caregiver
- Keeping the elder in isolation or restricting their interaction with others
- Conflict in stories or incidents told by the caregiver/family member and elderly person
- Speaking on behalf of the older adult even when they are capable of representing themselves
Laws that overlook elder abuse cases
Local and state health departments run Adult Protection Services for victims of elder abuse. These agencies are formed to investigate elder abuse cases and protect the rights of older adults. Besides this, federal laws that address elder abuse cases are the Elder Justice Act and Older Americans Act. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the effectiveness of these acts has decreased over time. Since EJA allocates funds to Adult Protection Services, they experience challenges in enforcing existing elder abuse laws.
Identifying elder abuse is crucial in preventing it from turning catastrophic. If you are an elder or someone caring for elder parents, you must be aware of various ways to prevent abuse.
There are various ways to prevent you from being an elder abuse victim.
- Know your rights as an elder in America
- If you are an aging individual, practice a healthy lifestyle to decrease your chances of becoming a vulnerable target
- Keep tab of all your financial accounts and documents
- Consult an estate planning lawyer to draft a living will to prevent unauthorized changes to your estate plan
- Keep your estate plan and will updated or review it periodically
- Keep your personal information safe from suspicious individuals
- Avoid sharing your personal details on social media or via mail