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The Elder Justice Act (EJA) of 2009

The EJA of 2009 has been included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the healthcare reform legislation). It provides federal support and funds to expand the fight against elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. What are abuse, neglect and exploitation per the EJA? The Elder Justice Act defines an elder as anyone 60 years old or more. It defines elder justice, as efforts to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in, and prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation; and protect elders with diminished capacity while maximizing their autonomy recognizing an elders rights, including the right to be free of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This recognition of the right to be free of abuse, neglect and exploitation is key to understanding the purpose of the EJA. Abuse is the knowing infliction of physical or psychological harm or the knowing deprivation of goods or services that are necessary to meet essential needs or to avoid physical or psychological harm. In other words, abuse is when someone hurts an elder individual physically or psychologically (striking him or her, rape, verbal threats, etc.) or denies the elder person goods or services he needs to avoid harm (such as denying him or her food or medicine). Neglect is defined as the failure of a caregiver or fiduciary to provide the goods or services that are necessary to maintain the health or safety of an elder; or self neglect. Self-neglect is further defined as an adults inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks including a) obtaining essential food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; b) obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, or general safety; or c) managing ones own financial affairs. This means that if a caregiver (paid or unpaid, professional or family, volunteer, hired or courtordered) doesnt provide food, medicines, clothing, shelter or medical care needed to keep an elder healthy and safe, the caregiver has neglected the elder. If an impaired elder fails to care for herself (for example, she fails to take her diabetes and heart medications) or doesnt pay her bills or protect her assets (for example, she leaves the unopened bills in the mail box or on the kitchen table and her utilities are turned off as a result), this may be self-neglect. Exploitation is defined as the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an elder person for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an elder of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. This means the manipulation, conning, or stealing from an elder individual; this includes a child or caregiver who appropriates an elders money or property for his own or who persuades the confused or dependent elder to give him the money, house or car. Stats on Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation State reports indicated that 65% of elder abuse victims were women, 42% were 80 years old or greater, and 89% of offenses occurred in the elders home or involved elders living in a private home, as opposed to those living in a care facility. Data on the alleged perpetrators of abuse, exploitation and neglect indicated 52% of the perpetrators were female, 75% were less than 60

2012 Language Line Services Confidential Information

years old, 32% were adult children and 21% were other family members. The other 47% of the perpetrators were a combination of professionals (banks, insurers, investment firms, doctors, non-family caregivers), neighbors, acquaintances and strangers. It is generally believed that these numbers vastly under-represent the actual frequency of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults. Because so many of the perpetrators are well known to their victims, and many of them are actually the victims children or other family members, elderly victims are often unwilling to report abuse or exploitation to the authorities. The victims dont want to send their own children to jail and they dont want to initiate family conflict or scandal. Victims are ashamed or are embarrassed by what has happened and want to keep it secret. Elderly victims may also be dependent on the perpetrators for care, food, shelter, transportation, financial management, safety or companionship and will not risk losing that assistance by reporting the crime. Victims may fear the perpetrators and are afraid of further harms if they call the police. Elderly victims with cognitive impairments may not realize that they have been robbed or their property transferred. They may not be able to clearly communicate, or even remember, physical assaults or theft or other exploitation, and may not be believed even if they try to tell someone. The bottom line is that many perpetrators get away with their crimes. How Will the Elder Justice Act Help? The Elder Justice Act creates an Elder Justice Coordinating Council and Advisory Board and trial forensic centers to improve the investigation and prosecution of crimes against elders. It provides grant money for education, advancement and increased compensation of long-term care providers; it also provides grant money for long-term care facilities to develop and implement electronic health record (EHR) technology, and additional funding for APS programs around the country; furthermore, it provides grant money for long-term care ombudsman programs and training. It creates a new federal right providing a civil alternative to criminal prosecution as a response to abuse, neglect or exploitation. What are the reporting requirements? Report to the State Survey Agency (SA) http://www.4fate.org/html/Agency_Directory.pdf and to Local Law Enforcement (LLE) entities in your area any reasonable suspicion of a crime. Multiple individuals may file a single report inclduing information about the suspected crime. The National Consumer Voice for Long Term Care http://www.theconsumervoice.org/ offers ombusdman, and other groups of concerned citizens who advocate for quality long-term care, services and supports and quality of life for residents and consumers in their locality, state or region sometimes self-identify as "citizen advocacy groups" (CAGs) nationwwide.

2012 Language Line Services Confidential Information