A fitting end to 2014 would be to end Elder Abuse and the only way for that to ever occur is to understand it. Certainly Elder Abuse is the physical abuse we all have a picture of in our mind; a person sitting in a dank room with an unkempt appearance and being alone. Elder Abuse is far more than that and not nearly as easily recognized. Laws have been tempered with the ability to allow the person their freedom and rights, just as those freedoms and rights pertain to you and me. However, what about the person who is now unable to understand or calculate their finances? What is it called when a person who is helping an individual with their finical obligations and is told to write themselves a check for their time, as was agreed to at the time they were employed to help with the finances. What is it called if a person hires an income aid or assistant to help out with housekeeping and personal care, puts the weekly medication in a weekly pill box so the person can take their medication independently? Is this independently? What if the person helping in these scenarios is a relative, say an adult child of the person?
All of these situations happen daily in the U.S.; and as we can see Elder Abuse is truly not so easy to determine. We have in this country an opposite end of Child Protective Services; it is Adult Protective Services and it is tasked with researching the validity of Adult Abuse claims. We as citizens thought it was difficult to determine what went on in a family when the children were teenagers, now think of the situations when an adult is the person perhaps in danger. Adults have the right to make decisions until a time when the courts decide they are incompetent to do so. And who in our community wants to tell a veteran, who has not only fought for us in battles overseas or been one of the few to live through the 9/11 attack they are not capable to make their own decisions. Who wants to tell a person that has just been hospitalized that they cannot leave the hospital and when they do, we send the police to pick them up; only to have an APS (Adult Protective Services) Worker say we cannot go into the persons home without cause. And leaving a hospital against medical advice although unwise is not cause!
How many people make people make choices different than what we would make on any given day? Are these dangerous to them or others? This question must be argued out in a courtroom, not by one person who is not familiar with the person or the situation.
Elder Abuse in not easily defined; partly due to previous court rulings, partly due to choice and partly due to the ugly picture it displays in our mind. one person’s bad choice maybe another person’s salvation. We need to take a long look at the situation, allowing people to retain their rights under the Constitution and how we address elder issues. Elders in our communities need to be protected and their rights as held under the constitution need to be safeguarded. This is a discussion for another day.