As individuals age, it is critical that they get the support and care that they need to live a comfortable life. Unfortunately, in some cases, caregivers responsible for providing these services abuse and/or neglect the person they are supposed to be helping.
On the other hand, there are many instances in which caregivers are accused of elder abuse or neglect, despite the accusations not being truthful. Whether accused by an elder who is suffering from dementia or a family member raising the accusations out of spite, an accused caregiver can face serious consequences – including APS investigations or even legal action.
What is APS and What Does the Service Do?
APS stands for Adult Protective Services. The service, provided by local social services districts, is designed to protect those who are seen as vulnerable adults from various forms of abuse. APS workers develop plans to help the vulnerable adult who finds themselves in an abusive situation – whether that is physical abuse, verbal or other form of emotional abuse, neglect, financial abuse or other harm.
Who is Eligible for APS Protection?
APS serves those who are 18 years of age or older who are deemed to be vulnerable adults. These vulnerable adults are defined as those who are susceptible to abuse (physical, emotional, financial, etc.), neglect or any other form of harm due to their physical or mental state.
In many cases, elders are deemed vulnerable adults, and are therefore eligible for protection from APS. As individuals age, they can develop both physical and mental/emotional impairments that make them more susceptible to abuse or neglect.
What Specific Services Does APS Offer?
APS offers a range of different services designed to assist with and prevent further abuse, including:
- Investigation and assessment of the abusive situation and the vulnerable adult’s needs
- Counseling services for the abuse victim and their family members
- Assisting in finding alternative living arrangements for the abuse victim
- Assistance with obtaining benefits for the vulnerable adult
- Case management
- Safety monitoring
- Assistance with other service providers, such as doctors
- Financial management assistance
- Crisis interventions
- Assistance seeking guardianship for the vulnerable adult
Elder Abuse: What to Look Out For
Elder abuse is an unfortunate situation that can occur. The following are typical signs to look out for in a potentially abusive situation:
- The elder (or vulnerable adult) seems depressed, anxious, confused or withdrawn
- The elder has unexplained injuries, such as bruises, cuts, burns or scars
- The elder is suddenly choosing to isolate themselves from loved ones
- Changes in banking and/or spending habits, such as withdrawing large amounts of money or spending an inordinate amount of money
Why False Elder Abuse Accusations Are Serious
As indicated above, not all accusations of elder abuse are true. In some instances, if either the elder themselves or a family member does not like the caregiver, that person may end up falsely accusing the caregiver of abuse.
This is a situation that should not be, and is not, taken lightly. By accusing the caregiver of elder abuse, that caregiver is now subject to an APS investigation, and could be facing lawsuits or possible criminal charges, depending on the nature of the alleged abuse.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Falsely Accused of Elder Abuse?
If you have been falsely accused of any form of elder abuse, we are here to help. Our experienced and passionate team of attorneys can help you fight your case.
For more information regarding elder law and other estate planning matters, check out our informative webinar series here.