Steve MehtaBy Steven G. Mehta

 

Citizens throughout the world are wearing something purple Monday in support of World Elder Awareness Day.  This day is designed to acknowledge the global issue of elder abuse and to combat that problem.

Elder abuse is often overlooked in our society as it is more likely to happen in a private setting and victims are often reluctant to report it, especially if the abuser is a family member. 

The number of elder abuse cases has risen over the years.  An article entitled Trends in Elder Abuse in Domestic Settings demonstrates the seriousness of the problem.  In some cases, victims are unable to report abuse because they suffer from dementia.

One solution to this problem includes possible Guardianship of the elderly.  Moreover, there is further emphasis on criminal prosecution of these acts as other solutions.  Yet another solution is further connectivety with family and increased communications.

In mediation, we have to be aware of the many issues that relate to elder abuse issues.  The following is a brief list of considerations that must be considered when mediating an elder abuse case.  These issues affect both the legal status of the case as well as the emotional status of the case.

Domestic Settings

  • Relationship between each family member
  • Distance of Relatives
  • Long Term v. Short Term Relationships
  • Desire of the Elder to Maintain Independence
  • Financial Considerations of Elder and the family
  • Long Standing Feuds between family members
  • An ability for each of the children to be considered valuable, special and equal.
  • Caregiver status of a person
  • The financial cost of elder abuse on the family

Institutional Setting

  • Long term nature of the stay
  • Pre-existing health of elder
  • Regulatory background of Facility
  • Representations made to family
  • Communication of Health Conditions
  • Guilt
  • Financial constraints
  • Relationship of family with elder

 

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