13th May 2010

Elder Abuse is a growing problem due to the fact that Americans are living longer and the fact that many families are not prepared to handle their aging parent or family member.   This sometimes leads to abusive treatment of the aged by their own family members, caregivers, and  others to whom the family entrusts their grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, etc.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused there are several anonymous and confidential ways to report this abuse.  One option is to call the local Adult Protective Services (APS)  agency, an agency found in California County Governments.

If the older person is a resident in a licensed long-term care facility, you can contact the long-term care Ombudsman.  To find the local Ombudsman, call 1-800-231-4024). 

Another option is to report the suspected abuse to the California Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-722-0432; or contact your local district attorney’s office.

An excellent publication is available for free from the California Attorney General’s office at http://ag.ca.gov/  which provides further information. 

Many people ask “Am I required to report suspected elder abuse?”.   And the answer is yes, if you are responsible for the care of elderly person, whether you are paid or not. 

Those who abuse the elderly are not always family members.  They can be caregivers, a “new friend”, a neighbor, or someone else with private access to the elderly person.

Common examples of elder abuse include (1)  having the elderly person sign documents giving the abuser powers over or beneficial interests in the property of the older person; (2) stealing jewelry and personal property of the elderly person; (3)  tricking the elderly person into home repairs or services that they don’t really need; (4) slapping, hitting, and pushing the elderly person; (5)  yelling, taunting, and verbally demeaning  the senior; (6) stealing cash or emptying out bank accounts after the abuser has been added to the account; and (7)  refusing to provide adequate food and hygiene, or mismanagement of medications. 

Families need to constantly monitor the care and environment of their older family member.   The family’s estate planning attorney can help with financial and incapacity plans to help safeguard the older person’s assets and provide legal management of their assets and health care.  The family physician should be consulted often for help in medications, and treatment; as well as determining the best residence for the older person.

A cooperative, family “team” approach with advice from the family lawyer and doctor will greatly reduce the opportunity for abuse of the elderly family member.

Additional estate planning resources are available for free at:

TOMPKINS-LAW.COM

DWIGHT EDWARD TOMPKINS
Attorney at Law

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified estate planning attorney in your jurisdiction.

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