This week we had World Elder Abuse Awareness day, on Wednesday, June 15, so we here at Lardiere McNair wanted to weigh in with a bit more about this crime, which is one of the fastest growing problems our seniors face in Ohio. When looking into this, we found that it’s not only seniors who need to be vigilant in ensuring that they are not taken advantage of – that falls on the rest of us.
In Ohio, certain types of professionals are required to report suspected elder abuse when they have reasonable cause to believe it is occurring. This includes doctors, dentists, chiropractors, hospital employees, nurses, police officers, social workers, and even us attorneys. In addition to these mandated reporters, any person may make a report. These reports can be made even if you are not 100% sure what is going on – it lets your local adult protective services department take the lead and determine whether something nasty is going on. As long as a report is not made with bad faith or malicious purpose, the reporter cannot be sued by the person whose conduct prompted the report.
For our friends who run businesses, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has some guidelines that can be helpful. Although most of the guidelines are directed at financial institutions, any business that has regular interaction with the elderly would be well advised to follow some of this advice. It includes:
1. Training management and staff to recognize and prevent exploitation of seniors;
2. Ensuring your staff knows if they are mandated reporters, what that responsibility entails, and how to ensure they are upholding their duty;
3. Expedite documentation requests from authorities such as Adult Protective Services and long-term care ombudsmen;
4. Offer clients the option to have a trusted third-party authorized to receive information about accounts and account activity;
5. Honor powers of attorney; and
6. Offer protective features like cash withdrawal limits, alerts for certain types of activity, and read-only access to accounts for certain parties.
Elder abuse is a growing problem that corresponds to our growing senior population, but if we all keep our eyes out for one another, we can protect our most vulnerable neighbors. One thing you can do to protect yourself from these types of problems is to have a proper estate plan in place. To chat with us about estate planning, visit our website at www.lmcounsel.com or call us at (614) 534-1355.
Ben Worsowicz is an Associate at Lardiere McNair, LLC.
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