As people get older, they face different types of challenges than those that younger persons may experience. While the majority of individuals and businesses usually appear to be ethical in their dealings with seniors, there are some unscrupulous people and con artists who deliberately seek to exploit, abuse or neglect the elderly. Common situations can involve scams including fraudulent telemarketing, contests, home repair, door to door sales and travel. Elder abuse at retirement homes is also prevalent.
Senior citizens have all of the rights that are guaranteed to every other person under state and federal laws. Due to their particular vulnerability, certain laws have been enacted to protect the elderly against scams and abuse. For instance, laws at the federal level and many states provide special rights for citizens 60 and over to better protect their interests.Elderly individuals have the right to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. No individual should be treated in a way that disregards their age, sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, marital status or income source. For example, senior citizens:
a. Are to be free from exploitation, abuse or neglect.
b. May choose to designate guardian or representatives as they wish to ensure quality stewardship of their affairs.
c. Have the right to make their own choices with regard to care, personal affairs, benefits and the services they receive.
Exploitation of seniors generally includes taking advantage of resources for monetary gain or personal benefit. Abuse can include intimidation, seclusion, humiliation, threats of punishment, harassment, deprivation, inflicting physical harm or unwanted sexual contact. It can also include verbal abuse and written or gestured language that includes disparaging or derogatory remarks, regardless of whether the person can hear or understand.
Nursing home residents should be dressed and cared for well with proper grooming, no matter what their state of health is. They should be able to express and receive their food, sleeping and waking time preferences. Treatments and personal care should be provided in private, rather than in front of others or with open doors. Those responsible for ensuring safe and proper care of elders should watch for signs such as unexplained bruising or behavior, since it is often embarrassing and difficult for elderly persons to discuss situations of degrading treatment they may receive. Independent elderly individuals can find a quality living environment at locations, such as Chelsea assisted senior living for instance, which provide responsible personal care associates.
At all times, elderly individuals have the right to be free of discrimination, coercion, interference or reprisal in exercising their civil rights. If problems at a nursing home are suspected, it is highly recommended that seniors be removed while an investigation is conducted. Any improprieties should be reported to the local police, Attorney General’s Office and Department of Family and Protective Services. Legal representation should also be sought out.
In all cases, contact a reputable personal injury or elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible to find out how to recover for damages. Losses of income, medical costs, neglect, pain and suffering and other expenses incurred as a result of the scam or abuse are often recoverable.