- Aging & Longevity
Elder Abuse Protection and Senior Citizens
The sad truth is that seniors are easy targets for abuse. They often has lost physical and mental faculties, and they can be seen as burdens to caregivers or the people who should be their caregivers. Most states have protective services for people who cannot provide for their own care. Those provisions vary widely in scope, some with reporting requirements and some without. You should check the provisions in your own state to understand the provisions, regulations, and services.
Guardianship and civil commitment procedures are common now for people who are incapacitated or legally incompetent. Many states have domestic violence legislation that is often directed primarily at spouses. Of course, there are laws against assault and injury of a person regardless of age. But case of senior abuse often have special circumstances. The victim is often unable to seek help or report abuse. He or she is dependent and often unknowledgeable of remedies available to them. Too often enforcement mechanisms are weak and and inadequate.
The most important aspect of guarding against elder abuse is that someone must report suspected cases of such abuse. That abuse can merely be neglect or exploitation. It does not have to be physical abuse. Different states have different mandates for the appropriate agency to investigate the reported abuse. There is no uniformity among various state statues. Language is often vague, definitions unclear, stipulations confusing.
Statues will often cover the following:
Abuse can sometimes be retaliation on the part of a child for real or imagined mistreatment by a parent when that child was young. Sometimes it is simply the result of having to deal with another dependent unexpectedly. Sometimes it is a reaction to financial problems. This can be exacerbated by reduced government benefits to the senior when they live with a their families.
In some cases, the senior will become the ward of the state as a result of Adult Protective Services laws. The senior has to offer consent for these services or be rule incapacitated to do so. In this case, the state become a public guardian of the senior.
Most states do their best to be the least restrictive alternative when it must intervene as a senior's guardian. This recognizes the state's responsibility to provide care and protection with the least restrictions on the subject's liberty and civil rights. Unfortunately, because statues are often vague, poorly defined and sometimes contradictory, the state often takes total dominion over elderly clients.
The wise senior citizen will do his or her best to avoid this possibility in the future.