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Here are some information and resources for individuals who encounter potential elder abuse and are interested in seeking further assistance here in Massachusetts:
The Massachusetts Bar Association's Consumer Advocacy Task Force recommends that consumers visit the following websites and phone numbers for supplemental information concerning Elder Law questions:
Elder abuse is a serious crime defined by Massachusetts Legislature as acts or omissions causing serious physical or emotional injury to elderly persons including but not limited to physical, emotional or sexual abuse, caretaker neglect and financial exploitation. Under Massachusetts Law, a person is considered to be elderly if he or she is 60 years old or older.
Examples of elder abuse include physical abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility, identity theft or scams that take advantage of the elderly, using undue influence to bully or otherwise pressure the elderly to enter into estate planning against their will, and/or neglect by a caretaker or family member with regard to hygiene, nutrition or medication.
Some warning signs of elder abuse could include unexplained bodily injuries (such as burns, cuts or fractures), withdrawal from normal activities, sudden changes in finances, poor hygiene, or signing documents without explanation.
In some instances, Massachusetts Law provides potential criminal penalties against those who commit elder abuse. For example, an individual who commits and assault and battery on an elderly person that causes bodily injury could receive up to five years in prison. Also, a caretaker of an elderly person who recklessly permits another to commit abuse or neglect upon an elderly person could be punished up to three years in prison.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs has created 22 protective services agencies throughout the state to investigate and/or respond to reports of elder abuse. If you wish to report elder abuse, you may do so by dialing the Elder Abuse Hotline (1-800-922-2275), which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Under Massachusetts Law, certain service providers, medical professionals or caretakers are required to report, in "good faith," suspected incidents of elder abuse. These "mandatory reporters" include, but are not limited to, doctors, nurses, family counselors, social workers, therapists or physical therapists. If a mandatory reporter fails to report elder abuse, he or she could be fined up to $1,000 for failing to do so.
Yes. There are private companies that provide in-home care as an alternative to a nursing home.
The federal and state laws governing Medicaid eligibility are complex and subject to frequent changes. While you are not required to hire an attorney to assist you with Medicaid planning, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney before you engage in any Medicaid planning.
Powers of attorney can be customized to meet the specific needs of each situation. Typically, powers of attorney are used to grant other people the right to access and use your personal assets. In these situations, you do lose the right to have complete control over your assets.
A power of attorney is a written document in which one person (the principal) grants specific powers to another person (the agent). For estate planning purposes, power of attorneys are typically used to give the agent power to manage the principal's assets and funds and have access to principal's bank and investment accounts.
Click here to view the MBA's 2016 Taking Control of Your Future: A Legal Checkup for additional information on elder law.
The Useful Resources section on this page also provides some helpful links. For example, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office along with the Massachusetts Council on Aging may provide helpful tips related to senior care and potential elder abuse issues. The Attorney General's Office maintains a volunteer staff who may provide information on Medicare, other health insurance issues, housing and access to prescription medication. The Council on Aging provides helpful information with regard to financial assistance and benefits, identity theft prevention and Veterans' Affairs benefits for senior veterans.
*These answers do not constitute legal advice and are written for general information purposes only. Individuals should consult with a lawyer for specific legal advice.
If you have any questions concerning these topics or other consumer protection issues, we highly suggest that you contact the Massachusetts Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. Get an instant online referral here. Or call us to speak to an LRS representative* (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.) at (617) 654-0400 or (866) 627-7577.