As people age, they start to lose their mental and physical abilities. Therefore, it may be necessary to rely more on children, nursing home staff or other caregivers to eat, get dressed or even go to the bathroom. While most caregivers are truly concerned with the welfare of our senior citizens, their lack of awareness or understanding of what’s going on around them may make them targets for abuse.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse can take a variety of forms such as physical abuse, mental abuse or even sexual abuse. For instance, if an elderly person is forced to undress in front of a caregiver or is forced to engage in sex acts that they don’t want to take part in or can’t consent to because of a mental issue, that is elderly abuse. Scams designed to part the elderly from their money may also be considered abuse. An example of financial abuse would be tricking an individual into signing the deed to a home over to a scammer who may then sell it and pocket the money.
Neglect May Also Be Considered Abuse
You don’t have to physically hit an older person or physically steal their possessions to abuse the elderly. By doing nothing at all, it is possible for an individual to commit abuse. Failing to provide food, failing to provide medication or failing to periodically move an older person could lead to malnutrition or the development of sores on the body.
What Are the Penalties for Engaging in Elder Abuse?
If you engage in elder abuse, you could go to prison for many years in addition to paying a fine. Those who know of or should know of elder abuse and don’t report it could be sentenced to jail time as well as a fine. Jail or prison sentences are generally determined by the extent of the abuse. If an individual suffers an injury or dies from neglect or physical abuse, it may be considered a felony.
An Attorney May Be Helpful in Resolving a Case Favorably
Those who are charged with elderly abuse may have several defenses at their disposal. First, it may be possible to show that there was no intent to harm an individual or take actions that would lead to injury or death.
It may also be possible to show that a defendant had legal authority to take possession of or liquidate a property. If financial abuse is being alleged, good record keeping can establish that assets were used solely to provide care or pay legitimate expenses.
Finally, it may be possible to show that you reported instances of abuse to authorities if you knew of them or thought abuse was taking place. For instance, you may show police reports or reports filed with a nursing home alerting staff to alert them to a possible issue.
Elder abuse can take many forms and impact many in the community. If you have been accused of harming an older person, you need legal counsel right away. Otherwise, you could be sentenced to jail time, pay a fine and suffer damage to your reputation.