A recent study found that up to one million older Americans are targeted yearly for elder abuse. Family members and caregivers are the culprits in fifty-five percent of all elder abuse cases. Our observations in Hunterdon, Warren, and Somerset Counties in New Jersey are that this estimated number of one million elder abuse cases is understated.
There are various forms of elder abuse: physical, emotional, and financial. Physical abuse can be anything from battery, to being forced to live in poor conditions, like an outdoor porch. Emotional abuse is anything designed to make the elderly feel less like a person: being denied socialization with friends or family, being denied the ability to make or receive phone calls, or being told that they are an imposition and should just die. Financial abuse is using the elderly person’s money and resources, not in their best interest, but in the interest of another, such as a child or caregiver. Theft comes to mind.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Some common signs of elder abuse are:
The disappearance of valuable objects;
Withdrawals of large amount of money;
Checks made out to “cash”;
A new “best friend” and isolation from other friends and family;
Large credit card transactions;
Signatures on checks that look different;
A name added to a bank account, or newly formed joint accounts;
Indication by the elderly person of a fear of caregivers.
There are other types of abuse which occur in different contexts, such as Guardianship Abuse which is often in the news. Sometimes, abuse takes place in nursing home, or by a caregiver in the home. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has established a camera program to combat this type of abuse: Elder Abuse Hidden Camera. Regardless of the context, we should be aware of the signs of abuse and act accordingly.
If you suspect someone of being abused, there are two actions to take immediately:
1. Call your county Adult Protective Services unit. APS will hear your complaint and investigate. Your identity and information will be kept confidential.
2. Call Bob Shanahan at Shanahan & Voigt, LLC. He can tell you about New Jersey’s elder abuse statutes, and how he can advocate for the person by obtaining restitution and protection for the elderly. We, at Shanahan & Voigt, LLC are completely familiar with the laws protecting the elderly and the rights that impact you and your family.
Whatever you do, do not allow an elderly person to fall prey to the abuser. Call Shanahan & Voigt. We all have the right to live in dignity and to determine our futures as we planned, despite our age.
WHO IS NEW JERSEY ELDER ABUSE ATTORNEY ROBERT J. SHANAHAN, JR.?
Partner Robert J. Shanahan, Jr. concentrates his practice in elder law, guardianships, powers of attorney, living wills, Medicaid and nursing home issues. He also practices in the areas of trusts, probate, and estate planning.
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