People are living longer than ever before. With increasing lifespan comes the undeniable fact that more and more elderly people will be unable to care for themselves. Some of these people will be cared for in long-term care facilities and others will be cared for by their loved ones in a home setting. While it may seem safer to be cared for by a loved one at home, it seems that the great majority of the elderly who are abused suffer mistreatment at the hands of their families and friends. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) recently held a conference addressing many of the issues posed by elder abuse in the state.
Elder abuse is the willful or negligent mistreatment of a vulnerable older person that results in harm or the risk of harm. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial and may stem from neglect as well as intervention. This abuse is illegal in all 50 states and is often regulated by an agency devoted to protecting vulnerable adults, such as Adult Protective Services. Unfortunately, many of the abused never speak up , either because they are either embarrassed, afraid, unaware, or unable to communicate.
Although elder abuse can go undetected, there are signs to look out for. Unexplained injuries, suspicious financial transactions, and changes in the relationship between the elder and the caregiver often point to abuse of some kind. In Indiana, local prosecutors handle the work of Adult Protective Services. There are only about 40 investigators in the state and last year they handled approximately 10,000 cases. Needless to say, the agency is understaffed. IPAC has determined that they are in need of more investigators but are unsure of the exact number. The above-mentioned conference can be seen as the first step to reforming Indiana’s elder care system. It brought together professionals from various fields to discuss important issues relating to elder care. IPAC hopes to have a clearer picture of what reforms are needed by the beginning of the coming legislative session.
Elder abuse is a huge problem across the country. Fortunately, you can take estate planning measures to decrease your chances of becoming a target. Contact a trusted estate planning attorney to get started.