Abuse of a person who is at least 60 years old can include exploitation and cruelty. Abuse can be either active or passive and can take many different forms. Anyone can commit elder abuse, including family members, caregivers providing respite care, and even complete strangers.
Who Exactly Qualifies as an “Elder”?
Any person who is at least 60 years old is considered to be an “elder” in accordance with federal statutes like the Older American Act (OAA). Although there may be differences in how each state defines an elderly person, most states consider anyone over 65 to be an elderly person.
Additionally, under both state and federal law, disabled people who have reached the age of majority (18 in most states) may occasionally be categorized as elders.
What Exactly Is Elder Financial Exploitation?
The most prevalent type of elder abuse is the financial exploitation of the elderly. It happens when an older person’s caregiver or family member abuses, steals from, or withholds money, goods, or property from them.
Older persons (usually 65 and older) are targeted because they may be reliant on social security benefits and have assets to steal, such as money in bank accounts or homes. These folks are frequently viewed as being more dependable than other people.
Financial exploitation of the elderly has increased over time for a number of reasons. For instance, social security benefits might not be sufficient to cover all of the expenses associated with older individuals’ longer lives.
As a result, individuals might be more open to financial scams that lure people in with the promise of winning the lottery or other prizes like contests that demand a deposit.
Elder financial scams typically entail a perpetrator seizing control of an elder’s information through coercion or fraud.
Scammers may employ aggressive tactics, such as threatening harm or using force to take advantage of the elderly person and extract money from them. Older people who receive bills from unidentified companies could be at risk of being taken advantage of financially.
These scams involving elder exploitation frequently begin with calls, mailings, or door-to-door visits.
Fraudsters may pose as representatives of governmental organizations or phone companies and threaten elders with serious consequences if they don’t pay a fee, claiming that they have fallen behind on their bills or owe back taxes.
Additionally, they might pose as the old person’s companion who is in need of money due to being imprisoned or stranded abroad. These con artists may even phone, claiming to be family members in need of assistance.
Sometimes con artists target senior citizens by offering them substantial financial gain if they allow their names to be used as part-owners for firms abroad. The older person is unaware that there is no business, nevertheless.
An elderly person may also be taken advantage of by purchasing a good or service that doesn’t exist or isn’t what was promised, such as a vacation package that never materializes or a home repair that isn’t completed.
Older folks may occasionally be tricked into paying scammers with things like gift cards, credit card details, or bank account information rather than cash. For instance, a caller may pretend to be from the senior’s bank and warn them that their accounts have been the target of fraud before requesting this information.
Other scams encourage the elderly person to email their password or credit card information by posing as “technical help” for the elder’s computer firm in an email.
An elderly person who gives the criminal entry to their home could also suffer financial loss. This might occur when a home caretaker steals money from wallets or when a fictitious utility technician enters a home after a natural disaster to check on a certain item and then demands money for repairs but never completes the work.
Furthermore, younger generations frequently mistake elder abuse and neglect for a natural part of aging because they lack knowledge about these issues. They could think that older people are being self-destructive by turning down help when it is offered.
What Is Elder Physical Abuse?
The use of physical force against an elderly person that results in pain, injury, or impairment is known as physical abuse. Additionally, it involves detaining the person against their will while abusing drugs, withholding physical restrictions, or both.
Can Psychological or Emotional Abuse of Elders Occur?
Yes. An act that causes the older person sorrow, emotional agony, or anguish qualifies as psychological or emotional abuse. It covers things like verbal abuse, intimidation, harassment, and humiliation. Verbal or nonverbal abuse is both possible.
When Does Sexual Abuse of Elders Qualify as Elder Abuse?
Non-consensual sexual intercourse with another individual is known as sexual abuse. If the victim is over 60 years old, it is seen as a kind of elder abuse. The elderly victim might not be able to consent or be too disoriented to fully understand what is going on.
These are some examples of elder sexual abuse:
- Compelled nudity
- Undesirable touching
- Explicit photography
- Sexual assault
Does Elder Abuse Include Neglect?
Yes. When a legal guardian or caretaker disregards a person’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and personal cleanliness, it is considered neglect.
Senior persons who reside in nursing homes and are unable to care for themselves on a daily basis are the most common victims of elder neglect.
Elder abuse and neglect are frequently stated together. However, many legal systems discriminate between the two. Neglect typically suggests that the victim wasn’t properly looked after and cared for. The phrase frequently refers to violations that are omissions. Failing to provide elderly people with the bare needs, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter, is an example of elder neglect.
Other instances of neglect include the following:
- Failing to deliver medications or treatments to the elderly as directed by their doctor;
- Allowing the senior to live in unreasonably substandard, uninhabitable, or inappropriate housing;
- Failing to provide the elder with critical information as asked, particularly where doing so results in the elder’s physical damage
Is Abandonment Considered Elder Abuse?
Yes. When a senior citizen is legally left to care for oneself by a guardian or caregiver, this is known as abandonment.
It alludes to an elderly person being completely abandoned, such as:
- Leaving them in a nursing facility where the staff is not adequately caring for them
- Leaving them in a public area, such as a mall,
- Leaving them in charge of their own care at home
Is Abuse of the Elderly a Civil or Criminal Offense?
Elder abuse is a legal infraction that can be prosecuted either civilly or criminally. As was already indicated, charges of criminal elder abuse are frequently brought. Criminal elder abuse may result in fines or jail time as penalties.
In some areas, a victim of elder abuse or their representative may bring a legal case against the person or organization responsible. In order to make up for the victim’s losses, the perpetrator may be forced to pay damages. Other monetary expenses like pain and suffering awards and legal fees may be included in the calculation of damages.
In several states, some caregivers are particularly required to report elder abuse cases, according to a final set of elder laws. For instance, most long-term senior care institutions are mandated to notify the appropriate authorities when elder abuse occurs.
Failure to disclose elder abuse that one has knowledge of or has seen can result in criminal penalties for those who have a duty to report it.
Should I Consult a Lawyer Regarding Elder Abuse?
The legal system sees elder abuse as a highly serious offense. If you are accused of committing this offense, you are strongly advised to speak with an elder lawyer. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation and advice for your case.