Elder Justice

Many Baltimore City Seniors are victims of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. This can take many forms. Senior Legal Services helps clients pursue civil legal remedies when they are taken advantage of in these ways.  

What is Elder Abuse?

An intentional act or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.
Center for Disease Control, 2016.

Impact:

Medical

  • Lasting physical, emotional, financial and behavioral impact on older adults
  • Elder abuse triples the risk of premature death
  • Victims of elder abuse are 3 times more likely to be admitted to hospital
  • High healthcare, social and legal costs result from elder abuse

Social

  • Increased social isolation
  • Decreased social resources
  • Loss or decline in social networks

Financial

  • Older adults lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually to financial abuse and exploitation
  • Increased spending on services to compensate for resources lost through exploitation
  • Injuries estimated to add more than $5.3 billion to annual health expenditure
  • Expenses associated with the prosecution, punishment, & rehabilitation of elder abuse perpetrators
  • Financial losses of businesses, families, elders, and government programs, and increases reliance on federal health programs like Medicaid

Abuse

The sustaining of any physical injury by a vulnerable adult as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act by any person
MD CODE ANN. FAM. LAW §14-101(b)

Indicators:

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Bruises, burns, bites
  • Missing hair
  • Untreated medical problems
  • Visits to different doctors/hospitals
  • Weight loss
  • Clothing out of season covering parts of body

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

  • Fear, anxiety, depression, withdrawal
  • Cowering
  • Fearful interaction with others
  • Others speaking on seniors’ behalf
  • Not allowing privacy
  • Physical signs of isolation (no phone or visitors)
  • Abuser discredits the elder making them look incapable

Sexual Abuse

  • Pain, bruising or bleeding in genital or chest area
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Recent depression
  • Recent incontinence
  • Change is senior’s mood or behaviors

Exploitation

Any action which involves the misuse of a vulnerable adult’s funds, property, or person.
MD CODE ANN. FAM. LAW §14-101(f)

Indicators:

  • Standard of living not in keeping with income or assets
  • Unusual activity in Bank accounts
  • Forged signatures on financial documents
  • Coercion used in signing of wills or releasing property
  • Overdue bills-lack of awareness of expenses
  • Limiting a Seniors access to his or her own accounts
  • Identity documents missing
  • Checks made out to cash
  • Expensive gifts to family members, caregivers, or new “BFF’s”

Neglect

The willful deprivation of a vulnerable adult of adequate food, clothing, essential medical treatment or habilitative therapy, shelter, or supervision.
MD CODE ANN. FAM. LAW §14-101(i)

* Neglect does not include the providing of nonmedical remedial care and treatment for the healing of injury or disease, with the consent of the vulnerable adult, recognized by State law instead of medical treatment.

Indicators:

  • Inappropriate or dirty clothing
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores
  • Hazardous or unsafe living conditions/arrangements (e.g. improper wiring, no heat, no running water)
  • Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell)
  • Lack of social contact
  • Irregular medical appointments
  • Lack of or poor conditions of dentures, glasses or hearing aids