There a certain vulnerable populations that deserve our extra care as a society – such as children, and the elderly. While the law has historically afforded children extra protection, the same cannot be said for the elderly. Elder abuse laws are relatively new in this country but New Mexico, for one, is taking a very aggressive approach on prosecuting these crimes.
Elder abuse is different depending on the nature of the case. The three main categories are:
- Abuse within a residential care facility.
- Abuse at home by a family member or caretaker.
- An outsider who takes advantage of the elder, often for financial gain.
Residential care facility abuse often falls under the Resident Abuse and Neglect Act which provides deterrents and remedies for the abuse, neglect or exploitation of care facility residents as well as offering a system for reporting instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation. The laws in this act are analogous to child abuse laws in that they give extra protection for those who reside in care facilities. These laws are very useful for those of us who want to protect our senior citizens.
Within this act “abuse” means “any act or failure to act performed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly that causes or is likely to cause harm to a resident, including:
(1) physical contact that harms or is likely to harm a resident of a care facility;
(2) inappropriate use of a physical restraint, isolation or medication that harms or is likely to harm a resident;
(3) inappropriate use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication or isolation as punishment or in conflict with a physician’s order;
(4) medically inappropriate conduct that causes or is likely to cause physical harm to a resident;
(5) medically inappropriate conduct that causes or is likely to cause great psychological harm to a resident;
(6) an unlawful act, a threat or menacing conduct directed toward a resident that results and might reasonably be expected to result in fear or emotional or mental distress to a resident.”
With respect to abuse that occurs within the home it is more difficult for social services and law enforcement to investigate because it may not be reported. Which is why this problem is society’s problem and all of us need to be hyper vigilant when it comes to our elderly neighbors and friends.
As for financial exploitation, it usually involves the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. Think of crimes such as, larceny, fraud, embezzlement, and forgery when considering financial abuse.
Please be aware that New Mexico’s “Duty to Report” provision of the Adult Protective Services Act (27-7-30) states that, “Any person, or financial institution, having reasonable cause to believe that an incapacitated adult is being abused, neglected or exploited shall immediately report that information to Adult Protective Services.”
Adult Protective Services remains on call for emergencies involving adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you suspect an elder person is being abused, neglected, or exploited, please call Adult Protective Services Statewide Intake, toll-free at 1-866-654-3219 or 1-505-476-4912.
To consult with an attorney today call the most experienced criminal and family law practitioners in New Mexico, Lightning Legal Group. We are here to help you and your loved ones navigate the family court process. Schedule a free consultation now by calling 505-247-2390.