Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorney
The typical victim of abuse is a female but often a male, 75 years of age or older who may have some condition that makes the person vulnerable.
Perhaps existing physical condition(s) makes the person a more likely target for abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. Maybe it’s psychological or a cognitive decline that has gradually increased over the years. Our victim is generally isolated from the world around them. Sometimes the victim resides in an institution. The victim may have few alternatives to remove herself/himself from the abusive situation because of their financial condition, health or age.
The abuser may be the victim’s middle-aged child who is also the victim’s caregiver. Many children harbor decades of anger and/or resentment towards their parents for perceived injustices, failures or favoritism. The abuser may even be the victim’s spouse (especially a second and subsequent spouse) or grandchild. An individual without close family may be exploited by a “friend”. If the individual resides in an institution, the abuser may be an employee of the facility or another resident of the facility may be the abuser.
Many (I believe most) home health aides are really terrific and help to care for the basic physical and emotional needs of our aging adults. They clean, provide medication, assist in grooming and other activities of daily living. Over eleven million adults over the age of sixty-five (65) require care at home or in assisted living, or a residential care environment other than a nursing home. This number will skyrocket in the coming years.
Surprisingly there are no uniform state and federal laws and regulations covering home health aides, other than standards imposed under N.J. Medicaid through the MLTSS program and other Medicaid waiver programs, and title 10 of the New Jersey Administrative Code which is a much generalized regulatory outline.
While N.J. requires criminal background checks of many caregivers, these laws only apply to in-home health care agencies, not independent contractors and self-employed caregivers who are found privately by family members and interested persons.
Home health aides are often paid slightly above minimum wage and lack health insurance coverage and other benefits commonly offered to employees in other occupations. Thus, the intersection between home health care workers and elderly financial exploitation comes to this intersection. Some caregivers prey on older clients by physical threats but mostly accomplish their financial “crimes” by manipulation, undue influence, outright theft.
I cannot stress enough to all readers of this site to do as much due diligence as you can into the credentials and background of any prospective in-home caregiver.
The Abusive Dynamic
Another common scenario of an abusive relationship finds the victim frail or disabled and the perpetrator suffering from psychological problems or the effects of alcohol/drug abuse. In surveys of various types of elder abuse cases, the patterns described above are often found. If you recognize a pattern in a relationship like that described above, it probably is a case of elder abuse and you should report or take action now.
Do you have a question(s) on an elder abuse or financial exploitation matter not addressed here? If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at
(855) 376-5291 or email him at email@example.com
to schedule a consultation about your particular concerns. He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him very approachable and easy to talk to.
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