Whether we are dealing with the difficult issues of how to convince dad to give up the car keys, mom’s need for placement in a facility, or fear of money being improperly acquired by a scammer, dignity of the elder must not be disregarded in the name of protection. The question posed is how to maximize the preservation of dignity in the face of true need for protection of the elder? This article addresses the issue as it relates to financial abuse of elders, but the principles are equally applicable in other situations.
Example of the Conflict
In many cases of financial abuse of an elder, the dignity of the elder is in indirect conflict with the apparent need for protection. This problem sometimes arises from the fact that a report to Adult Protective Services (APS) has been made in the name of protection. The investigators who are strangers to the elder and the family are then required to investigate and quickly judge the elder’s relationships with friends and family and make a decision whether protection is needed. Complete information is not available as a thorough investigation takes time. In other instances, the conflict results from a family member initiating court proceedings alleging financial abuse by filing a conservatorship proceeding, application for temporary restraining orders, or simply suing for the return of the elder’s money or assets. The conflict also arises when a family member hires an attorney to demand the return of money or assets to the elder. Protection from financial abuse is the goal, but often ignored is the elder’s dignity.
Using a situation for illustration, the facts presented are that an action in the name of protection of the elder has been initiated. There are allegations of elder financial abuse. Mary is 85 years old. She appears somewhat forgetful but has the legal capacity to make her own decisions. However, Mary’s capacity is diminished due to dementia affecting her memory. Mary and her daughter, Sue, want an attorney to draft a new Trust, Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advanced Healthcare Directive.
Read the complete article Elder Dignity, Autonomy and the Need for Protection from Abuse online at Tech-enhanced Life.