Alabama reports of elder abuse on the rise

As our nation's population ages and the need for care for senior citizens increases along with it, so unfortunately has the instance of nursing home abuse or neglect. Physical, mental and emotional abuse is documented in assisted living and nursing homes around the nation, including in Alabama. The prevalence makes anyone nervous about trusting the care of their loved one to others.

The state of Alabama recently passed a new law making the penalties for elder abuse stricter than they have been. In the past, a victim needed to have some form of mental impairment before charges of exploitation would be allowed. Now, simply being over the age of 60 is enough to allow the filing of neglect, abuse or exploitation charges. Depending upon the circumstances, a defendant can face first, second or third degree criminal charges. Additionally, any conservator, guardian or power of attorney who initiates an unauthorized financial or asset transfer can face criminal charges.

A spokesperson from the Alabama Department of Human Resources recent reported at an elder abuse workshop that roughly 5,000 instances of abuse, neglect and exploitation were reported in 2012 and nearly 3,500 have been documented so far in the 2013 fiscal year. These include not only elderly persons but anyone over the age of 18 with a physical or mental disability that requires care. The speaker noted that the state believes the true numbers to be much higher than what is reported.

From personal injury to wrongful death, the consequences of nursing home neglect or abuse can be serious and leave both victims and family member emotionally scarred. Speaking to an elder law attorney may be useful if you have an elderly or disabled family member so you can keep them protected.

Source: The Anniston Star, “Experts discuss growing problem of adult abuse, neglect,” Eddie Burkhalter, September 19, 2013

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