Elder abuse at home is a serious problem affecting hundreds of thousands of elderly people across the country, reports the National Center on Elder Abuse. Largely hidden, it’s grossly underreported. Incidents that get reported represent only the tip of the iceberg.
“Abuse” is defined in many ways — verbal, physical or sexual; abandonment, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation. Roughly two-thirds of all perpetrators are family members, most often the victim’s adult child or spouse. The majority of victims are female.
There’s an easy way for this reader to determine whether her husband’s grandmother is being badly treated: Call Adult Protective Services (APS) in the grandmother’s area and ask them to investigate. If she’s correct, the situation needs to be stopped.
“A person doesn’t have to have proof that bad things are happening,” says California Elder Law Attorney Steven C. Peck “but a ‘reason to believe.’ If you’re in doubt, call.”
APS will send an investigator for a face-to-face interview with the alleged victim, in some cases within 24 hours (I called recently, and an investigator was there that afternoon).
When an investigation uncovers problems, APS can offer a range of protective services, from getting the police involved, to having a court review guardianship or powers of attorney, to showing other family members how to step in, to linking to alternative living arrangements.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.