The level of Elder Abuse has risen to a level where Pennsylvania’s legislature felt compelled to take action.  Act 45 addresses, among other provisions, how Elder Abusers are to be treated.  Elder abuse includes not only physical abuse, but also emotional and financial abuse.  It also includes exploitation, neglect and abandonment as well. So what has changed?

Elder abusers are now to be treated the same as slayers under the Slayers Act. The Slayers Act, in brief, does not allow the slayer (ie, the murderer) to benefit from his or her actions. When considering a murder, this makes perfect sense.

Now, a person who abuses an elderly individual will be treated in the same way. The abuser will not be permitted to retain any benefit from the abusive actions. Clearly, the intention is to make the penalty so high that potential abusers are scared to move forward.

So what can you do if you suspect elder abuse? Whether it is your neighbor across the street, or someone in your own family, you must act.  You cannot stay silent. You need to go to the person being abused and to the abuser separately. Obviously, you need to use wisdom and not charge in like a bull. But you cannot stay silent. If you believe there is abuse after speaking to one or both of the players, contact the office of the aging. They will help you move forward.

I can hear it from here…”But I don’t want to get involved.” To that let me remind you, what you sow you will reap. Perhaps you are sowing good actions so that when you are the elder person, you will receive.

We in Pennsylvania live in a Commonwealth. We look our for each other, for each other’s well-being. It is up to us to care for each other.

One final note, the abuser who is suddenly being questioned and being watched will very often back off. Elder abusers, like bullies, will usually stop their behavior when someone is watching them.

One of the best defenses to Elder abuse is having an up to date Power of Attorney document. That document assigns a person to be your agent and lays our the boundaries of their authority. Please contact me at my new location, Salzmann Hughes in Carlisle, at 717-249-6333. I will be happy to help you create an estate plan, including a Power of Attorney, that will help to protect you and to leave the legacy you deserve.