Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older. The abuse often occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts. Elder abuse is recognized as a continually increasing and serious problem in our society. Unfortunately, due to under-reporting, variations in the definition of elder abuse, and the absence of a nationwide uniform reporting system, it is difficult to determine the scope of this issue.
The National Center on Elder Abuse distinguishes between seven different types of elder abuse.
Financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability is:
(1) a Class 4 felony if the value of the property is $300 or less.
(2) a Class 3 felony if the value of the property is more than $300 but less than $5,000.
(3) a Class 2 felony if the value of the property is $5,000 or more but less than $50,000.
(4) a Class 1 felony if the value of the property is $50,000 or more or if the elderly person is over 70 years of age and the value of the property is $15,000 or more or if the elderly person is 80 years of age or older and the value of the property is $5,000 or more.
Any person can abuse elders, though it is someone who already has an existing relationship with elders.Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives where their abusers are often adult children, other family members such as grandchildren, or a spouse or partner. Elder abuse can also occur in institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities.
Social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease ) are two factors. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect.
Depending on the course of your charge, you may have to go to court to fight the accusations against you. When fighting elder abuse, there are many defense strategies your lawyer can take, but here are a few common ones:
Self defence: An individual is not criminally liable for elder abuse when acting in self-defense. So this includes defending another person. Normally this is a type of situation where an adult over the age of 65 acted physically aggressive and tried to attack you.
Lack of neglect: Neglect is the most common civil form of an elder abuse claim. It is based on negligence, meaning defendant failed to use the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would have used in the provision of food, clothing or shelter, providing medical care or mental health needs. So this means the defendant must have acted in a manner that created a risk of injury to the victim he or she was caring for. Hence, if the accused actions were careless, and not negligent, good defense lawyers may be able to show there was no willful negligence.
Lack of intent: The prosecutor (the lawyer fighting on behalf of the alleged victim) must prove that you acted with willful intent when committing elder abuse. That means if the event in question was accidental in nature, then elder abuse was not committed, and the case is dismissed.
65 or under: The 65 Years and Over Population, people over the age of 65 are the fastest growing segment of the country’s population. (According to a 1998 study, The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, over 550,000 incidents of elder abuse were reported every year.) With the increase in the proportion of elders in the population, it is reasonable to predict an increase in the number of cases of elder abuse.
It’s difficult to take care of a senior who has many different needs, and it’s difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur.
Current research demonstrates that the primary abusers of the elderly are adult children and other family members, indicating that violence against elderly persons occurs mostly at home. It has been suggested that family stresses, both psychological and financial, may be a contributing factor to elder abuse. The ACT program emphasizes the need for families to express and manage their anger and frustration constructively, and model appropriate, non-aggressive behaviors for their children.
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