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NC and SC Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Elder Abuse on DOJ's Radar

What is the government doing about elder abuse.

Back in May, we reported on the growing problem of elder abuse in all its forms, physical, emotional and financial. Many have termed this the crime of the 21st century, and now elder abuse has become a concern for the federal government. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a program to address the problem of abuse of elderly patients in nursing homes.

The DOJ is establishing 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces across the country to coordinate efforts with federal, state, and local prosecutors, law enforcement and other agencies that provide services to elder including U.S. Attorneys' Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, the Department of Health and Human Services, and state Adult Protective Services. This collaborative effort is designed to ferret out nursing homes that are providing substandard care to their residents.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

The physical abuse of elderly patients in nursing homes comes in many forms, including assault, battery, the prolonged deprivation of food and water, and even sexual assault. In some case, nursing home staff inappropriately use physical and chemical restraints as a form of punishment, or for reasons that have not been approved by a physician. Emotional abuse is also common as elders are verbally abused, ignored or isolated.

Some observers believe the Justice Department's initiative may curb some abuses but also note that the problem is a dysfunctional elder care system that is ultimately failing to protect the elderly. In particular, government programs such as Medicare are paying elder health care providers without considering the quality of care being provided. Because of these and other shortfalls in delivering health care to the elderly, government oversight is necessary. However, finding solutions is challenging due to the complex care needs and financial resources of elderly patients.

There are steps that elderly patients and their loved ones can take to prevent being victimized, particularly by selecting the right elder care facility and implementing a financial plan to cover the costs of long-term care. By engaging the services of an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney, you can create a plan that will enable you to obtain the quality care that you deserve.


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