In most states, there is a system of adult protective services for investigating and remedying reported abuses. Moreover, some states have laws giving victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation a civil cause of action. Finally, in most states, the abuse or neglect of older people is also a crime.
All states have a system for reporting allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly, for investigating the allegations and, if the allegations are founded, for providing services to the older person to remedy the problems and prevent their recurrence. In fact, most states have mandatory reporting requirements with respect to such allegations. If an agency concludes that an allegation is founded, it will respond by offering the older person appropriate services, such as medical assistance, counseling, special transportation, assistance with money management, or placement in a different residential setting
Elder Abuse Laws
Numerous accounts of maltreatment led policy makers to pass a series of laws intended to protect elderly victim. The passage of the federal Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA) (3) and the creation of the Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Program (4) in 1992 were instrumental in promoting state laws to address the needs and concerns of the elderly. The Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Program legislation promoted advocacy efforts through ombudsmen offices; abuse, neglect and exploitation prevention programs; and legal assistance on behalf of older Americans. It also offered federal funding incentives which made it possible for states to develop and maintain programs designed to assist the elderly. In many respects, state elder abuse laws are patterned after legislation designed to address the problem of child abuse and neglect, and, like the response to child maltreatment, often involve the combined efforts of both criminal justice officials and social services staff.Criminal Elder Abuse Laws
In an effort to deter crimes against elderly victims, and to express society's abhorrence toward such offenses, many state legislatures have created special offenses involving crimes against the elderly. Laws criminalizing abuse of the elderly are in effect in all states and the District of Columbia. Generally, these laws define the conduct which constitutes a specific form of abuse, and may make a distinction between abuse committed in a domestic, as opposed to an institutional, setting. At least two states -- Massachusetts and North Carolina -- have laws which subject anyone over the age of 18 who has sufficient means, but neglects or refuses to support a parent who is unable to support him/herself due to age or disability, to a fine or imprisonment. (5)