The typical elder abuse victim is a widow who is socially isolated, physically and/or cognitively impaired and denies or is reluctant to report abuse. The typical abuser is a family member caregiver with drug, alcohol or mental health problems, a controlling personality and/or ineffective coping skills who is under financial, emotional or marital stress. However, elder abuse occurs in every racial, social and economic group. Most common types of elder abuse are neglect, emotional/psychological, financial/ sexual exploitation and physical abuse
Symptoms of Elder Abuse
The following are possible symptoms of elder abuse:
1.) Physical Abuse: Unexplained bruises, falls, fractures, grip marks, pain, swelling or welts.
2.) Neglect: Malnourishment, bedsores, soiled clothes, over sedation, or lack of medical attention or equipment despite available funds.
3.) Emotional /Verbal Abuse: Depressed, hopeless, appears shamed, withdrawn, passive, loss of self-determination, invalid guilt, threatened, called names, or fearful.
4.) Financial Exploitation: Illegal use of elder's money, possessions, or resources for another's gain. Examples: elder has no money for food or clothes, is victimized by con artists, has a caregiver who is totally financially dependent upon him, is forced to sign over control or a power of attorney and has unexplained bills, charge card or banking activity
Legal Options for the Victim
The legal options for the victim are an order of protection, having the perpetrator arrested under the domestic violence law or a guardianship to stop financial exploitation
Order of Protection
The order of protection may or may not include the expulsion of the perpetrator from the home. A person is eligible to go to Family Court for an order of protection if he or she is married to an abuser, formerly married to an abuser, has a child in common with the abuser or is related by blood or marriage to an abuser. An order of protection can be obtained in town, city or village court if a criminal charge has been filed by a police officer or the victim.
When the Police Must Arrest
The police must arrest for domestic violence when:
a.) A felony, other than grand larceny crimes, has been committed against a member of the same family or household.
b.) There is a violation of the Stay Away provision of an order of protection or a family offense is committed in violation of an order of protection; Family offenses include harassment (first and second degree), aggravated harassment, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment (first and second degree), menacing (first and second degree), and assault.
c.) A misdemeanor constituting a family offense is committed against another family or household member, unless the victim requests otherwise. However, the officer shall not ask the victim whether he seeks the arrest of the perpetrator. Even if the victim requests no arrest, the officer can use his own discretion as to whether an arrest should be made.
Family or criminal courts can order the abusive behavior to stop (no offensive contact order); the abuser to have no contact with the victim (stay away order); and the abuser to leave the residence (vacate). Victims of elder abuse should contact an attorney, their local District Attorney's office or Adult Protective Services to pursue criminal or civil remedies.