World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Know the Facts

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The United Nations designates each June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The UN recognizes that elder abuse is a problem on a global scale, especially with the older population growing substantially in almost every country in the world. Elder abuse also seems to be a “taboo” topics in many parts of the world. The theme for 2018 is “Moving from Awareness to Action through a Human Rights-Based Approach.”

People of every age should be able to live without suffering unnecessary harm. Harm can come in many forms, including:

  • Physical injuries – A variety of physical injuries can result from the physical abuse or the sexual assault of seniors. These can include broken bones, head injuries, lacerations, contusions, bedsores, and more.
  • Mental injuries – Physical abuse, verbal abuse, and sexual abuse can all cause severe mental injuries for victims. Undergoing constant verbal attacks, the trauma of physical attacks, or living in fear of future attacks can all result in serious depression, anxiety, and withdrawal.
  • Financial losses – Many forms of abuse result in the need for medical treatment, which can be costly. In addition, parties may engage in financial elder abuse, which occurs when someone uses their proximity to the senior or exercises undue influence for wrongful monetary gain. Financial abuse can often drain a senior’s hard-earned assets and deprive beneficiaries of their inheritance.

All types of elder abuse should be taken seriously and the goal of the UN is to educate and provide tools to recognize elder abuse and to prevent it in the first place. Some of the presentations in the New York UN program address the following:

How to better resolve intergenerational conflicts – Many cases of elder abuse involve family members who become frustrated or angry and exert power over older relatives through abuse.

Keeping a better watch on nursing homes – Elder abuse has become a significant problem in many nursing homes throughout the United States. Whether residents suffer neglect, physical abuse, or mental abuse, nursing homes should be held accountable for the harm that occurs.

Financial elder abuse is another serious matter, the scope of which is not fully understood since many people do not realize it occurs. This type of elder abuse can occur in many ways, including:

  • Someone convinces an elderly neighbor to add them as a beneficiary on the title to their house
  • A caretaker writes themselves checks from the senior’s checkbook
  • A broker takes advantage of an elderly person and convinces them to hand over a significant sum of money to invest, though it is not invested
  • A person steals cash or possessions to sell from an elderly parent or grandparent
  • A distant family member gets close to a senior and manipulates them into changing their will to leave significant property to the family member, who otherwise would not have been included in the will

Any of these types of financial elder abuse can lead to substantial financial losses for a senior and their family. However, sometimes gifting or transferring assets can be a legitimate part of an estate plan or an asset protection plan and this needs to be distinguished from financial abuse.

Discuss Your Concerns with a New York Elder Law Firm

At Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin LLP, our senior law attorneys represent clients who have endured losses due to elder abuse. Call (212) 387-8400 or contact us online to learn how we may help you.