Across the United States, solitude has become a deadly threat for hundreds of thousands of senior citizens living at home.
Last year alone, state adult protective services (APS) intervened in more than 142,000 cases to protect seniors at risk from what is clumsily termed “self-neglect” – seniors who have become too physically or mentally incapacitated to care for themselves and have no other care providers.
Overall, according to new federal data obtained exclusively by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, state-based APS agencies completed more than 713,000 investigations in fiscal year 2017. The agencies identified nearly 235,000 victims of abuse, including the self-neglect cases. About 10% of the total abuse victims counted were under age 50, because some states include abuse or neglect of younger adults with disabilities.
In Alabama, there are statutory protections for elders. There are felony criminal and civil penalties for those found guilty of such actions.
For instance, Section 38-9-7 states that:
It shall be unlawful for any person to abuse, neglect, exploit, or emotionally abuse any protected person. For purposes of this section, residence in a nursing home, mental institution, developmental center for people with an intellectual disability, or other convalescent care facility shall be prima facie evidence that a person is a protected person. Charges of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or emotional abuse may be initiated upon complaints of private individuals, as a result of investigations by social service agencies, or on the direct initiative of law enforcement officials.
And the law empowers any interested person to initiate a criminal investigation but also to initiate civil protections. Section 38-9-6 plainly states any “interested person may petition the court to order protective placement or other protective services for an adult in need of protective services. ”
These proceedings can be joined with other civil remedies such as causes of action for Breach of Fiduciary Responsibility, Conversion (Theft), Fraud, Guardianship/Conservatorship, and Injunctions etc.
Do you believe your parents or relatives have been defrauded? Do you believe a sibling has taken advantage of a Power of Attorney? You have rights and are empowered to protect your friends and family? And you do not even need to be related, just interested in the well being of the abused/defrauded person.