According to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC's) 2013 report, the life expectancy in the United States was up to an average of 78.8 years. We are living longer lives, and with the "Baby Boomer" generation growing ever closer to the age of retirement, our elderly population is growing by the minute. Diseases like heart disease and respiratory disease as still leading causes in death in the US, however, diseases like stroke and Alzheimer's are striking more frequently. With our population living longer and these incapacitating diseases affecting more people every year, we are witnessing a rise in elderly loved ones who are in need of tender love and care.
Unfortunately, this means a growing percentage of our population is growing increasingly more vulnerable to those among us with less than noble and nurturing intentions. Elder Abuse, as such, is a growing problem in our country.
What exactly constitutes Elder Abuse? New York State's Office of Children and Family Services outlines five different kinds of Elder Abuse:
· Physical Abuse, or the non-accidental use of force by a third-party against an elderly person that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment to that person, including but not limited to, being hit, burned, improperly physically restrained, or cut;
· Sexual Abuse, or any kind of non-consensual sexual contact between a third-party and an elderly person, including but not limited to, forced sexual contact with their own body or another's body;
· Emotional Abuse, or the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish on an elderly person, by a third-party, through the use of threats, intimidation, or humiliation tactics, including but not limited to, isolating or menacing behavior;
· Financial Abuse, or the improper use by a third-party of an elderly person's property, assets, or finances, including but not limited to, fraud, falsifying records, coerced gifts or transfers, or denial of access to assets;
· Active Third-Party Neglect, or the willful failure by a third-party caregiver to fulfill their duties to their elderly charge, including not limited to, abandonment, food and/or water deprivation, a refusal to clean the elderly charge, or a refusal to provide health-related services to the elderly charge;
· Passive Third-Party Neglect, or the non-willful failure of a third-party to fulfill caregiver duties, either because of inadequate knowledge, caregiver's own infirmity, or the caregiver disputing the value of prescribed services; and
· Self-Neglect, or the elderly person's failure to provide for their own needs, often due to physical and/or mental impairments, resulting in a direct harm to oneself.
All of the above forms of Elder Abuse are horrifying and there is no excuse at all for the insidiousness of abusive behavior. It is impossible to know, though, how prevalent elder abuse is in our society - so many instances go unreported and remain unknown. That is why it is more important than ever to not only look out for our loved ones, and all the more vulnerable members of our society, but to also make sure we put in place an Estate Plan that can help us lower the likelihood that we ourselves will fall prey to Elder Abuse as we age. With the right plan, we can ensure that the people we trust will have the legal authority to protect us as we get older.
The Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys here, at Cohen & Cohen Law Group, P.C., are ready and able to work with you to create the unique plan that you need to help ensure that you and your assets will be safe and secure as you age. Call our office today at (718) 275-7779 and schedule an appointment to meet with us to help prevent you or your loved one from becoming subject to Elder Abuse, so you can feel safer and more secure as you live out the rest of your days .