When most people think of elder abuse in Alabama, they associate it with substandard conditions in nursing homes. Many facilities operate on limited budgets making it difficult to dedicate as much time as they need to those trusted in their care. Bedsores and malnutrition are both indicators that that your loved one may be neglected. While nursing home neglect is a serious problem, it is not the only type of elder abuse that needs to be stopped. Employees at nursing homes as well as in-home caregivers often treat elders in an inhumane manner by physically or emotionally abusing them. Black eyes, bruises and broken bones explained as “repeated falls” are often signs of physical abuse. Senior citizens are sometimes taken advantage of financially as well/
According to the National Center of Elder abuse, as many as 11 percent of elderly Americans were victims of abuse or neglect last year. Lawmakers in Alabama recognized this growing problem and recently passed new legislation to protect the state’s aging population. The previous law only protected elderly persons who were mentally incapacitated in some way. Now the law defines elder abuse as physical or financial exploitation of anyone that is at least 60 years old. Mental capacity does not have to be proven. Depending on the severity of the abuse or negligence in Alabama, offenders may be charged with a class A felony, which is punishable by a prison term of 10 years to life.
In addition to criminal action, the families of victims of elder abuse may want to seek civil action as well. An evaluation from a personal injury lawyer can determine if the victim is entitled to punitive or compensatory damages. While no amount of money can repair the damage inflicted by elder abuse, the responsible parties should be held accountable for their actions. A civil lawsuit also sends a message to others that this type of immoral behavior will not be tolerated.
Source: Demopolis Times, “New law helps protect elders from abuse,” Matt Cole, June 13, 2013.