Most people won’t put up with abuse, but what happens when you don’t have the physical or mental capacity to defend yourself? An elder law attorney can advocate for senior citizens who have suffered neglect and harm from ill-intentioned caregivers.
There are several segments within the population who suffer from lack of advocacy, which is why an elder law attorney serves such an important role in society. Just as children can easily be taken advantage of by family or those closest to them, senior citizens often suffer from similar abuse, neglect, and manipulation at the hands of others. The vast majority of abusers are those living within the same household and that are not professionally hired caregivers. You can make a difference; however, by making a stand for someone close to you who is being maltreated.
There are several types of abuse, which are not limited to physical harm. Neglect, such as denying food, water, medication, access to hygienic facilities, and maintaining a comfortable temperature are all forms of abuse and legal action can be taken. Verbal and emotional manipulation is another form of mistreatment, which can include forcing the victim to hand over control of finances, coercing signatures, or stealing prescriptions and using or selling them illegally. While those with mental and physical disabilities are the most likely to be victims of neglect or abuse, individuals who are still highly functioning can still be targeting due to dysfunctional family relationships or lack of other available options. Many have little access to finances and therefore are dependent on their family for their basic necessities, making them fear taking legal action against their caretakers. An experienced elder law attorney is sensitive to these complex situations.
Self-neglect is another problem, and it is a struggle for many concerned family members and friends. As a person’s physical, emotional, and cognitive faculties slowly degenerate, their ability to handle daily but essential tasks diminishes. They may require increasing outside assistance to ensure they can manage their household, feed themselves, and perform other basic functions. Some, however, are resistant to help, flat-out refuse it, or are under the delusion that non-involved family members will come to their rescue. Additionally, dementia can cause problems such as poor financial choices (giving away large sums of money to strangers is a common problem), which can quickly lead the person to bankruptcy. If this occurs, it is important to intervene for their protection.
If you believe that someone you love is suffering self-neglect or abuse at the hands of a caregiver, it is important to seek professional assistance. If the issue is self-neglect, a family intervention with the aid of a therapist may be able to convince the victim to accept help. If mediation is ineffective, legal action may be required in order to gain control of assets and decision-making so that their best interests may be met. If legal documents have already been signed such as handing over assets unwillingly to another party, an elder law attorney can help you set things right again. Don’t assume that the family will always make the right decisions or become involved in any way. It is common for a senior citizen to have little contact with relatives due to distance or broken ties.