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Discussion Question: Read the case of Norman, a 77 year-old victim of elder abuse, and post your response to any two of the following questions:
- What are some of the common legal needs of elderly clients like Norman who may be suffering from elder abuse or financial exploitation? Distinguish between Norman’s criminal and civil legal options.
- What are some barriers that may impede Norman’s access to legal redress or representation?
- What are Norman’s social or human services needs in this situation?
In the case of Norman, there are significant concerns regarding domestic violence and elder abuse within his home. Norman is also a victim of financial exploitation. Due to these issues, Norman has several social and human services needs that should be addressed, as well as legal proceedings that should follow. According to the Office of Senior Services in Schuylkill County, PA, this agency “exists to assist older adults in leading independent, meaningful, and dignified lives” (Schuylkill OSS, 2021). A local office of aging can assist by providing an assessment for services, care management for the individual, and protective services for individuals who are mentally or physically incapable of protecting themselves from abuse/neglect.
In Norman’s situation, while he may still be mentally capable of caring for himself, it seems as though he is easily persuaded by the other individuals in his home. Norman is often verbally, mentally, and physically abused. In the past, Norman has been unable to remain outside of the home for long periods of time and is mistreated within the home. With the assistance and support of a worker in the Office of Aging, the office can file a claim with an Ombudsman, who will do a thorough investigation of the abuse within the home. Norman can pursue a Protection from Abuse order, which should remove his children from the home, rather than himself. According to Slater and Fink, “during the course of an investigation, child and adult protective service investigators may decide to petition the court to order family involvement in safety plans or to order the children’s or adults, removal from their homes, or in some cases group homes or institutions, for their safety” (2012). In certain cases, the police are called in and a district attorney can file criminal charges. Civilly, Norman’s case can be referred to Family Court. Both in civil and criminal court, Norman has the right to an attorney.
Unlike the past, with the support of a worker within the Office of Aging, Norman can commit to a better life for himself. In addition, Norman’s wife can gain a better understanding of his needs, as well as their needs as a couple moving forward. The Office of Aging can also provide resources to the family as a whole, to alleviate domestic violence in the future.
Slater, L. K., Finck, K. R. (2012). Social Work Practice and the Law. Springer Publishing Company.
Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services. (2021). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://schuylkilloss.org/
- Elderly abuse is a general term for cruelty such as physical abuse, negligence, psychological abuse as well as financial exploitation. In the case of Norman, we have observed all those forms of violation for the elderly, namely, emotional abuse, unfair treatment, negligence, physical abuse as well as exploitation. So those are some of the legal needs that Norman should receive since the outcome of such physical and emotional abuse could lead to risk factors such as dementia, isolation as we have seen, physical impairment, and many others.
- Some of the barriers that may impede Norman’s legal representation include dismissal by the prosecutor against his charges, lack of a proper legal representation team, bias by the jurors, and failure of witness protection. Norman as an elderly person should be protected from domestic violence and all forms of elderly abuse. It is clear that at his old age all he should be getting from his family members is care and love to reciprocate back what he has given to them. The old folk has worked hard all his life to provide for his family and make sure that they never lack.
- The fact that the two sons of Norman physically abuse and financially exploit him, that’s an offense to a fellow man and it’s a civil offense. Among the social and human services that Norman needs include healthcare services, counseling, legal lobbying as well as temporary food and shelter assistance. Having labored for many years, Norman needs fair treatment by his family. As a case manager, I would seek Norman’s legal protection as well as lobby for proper healthcare services and counseling to help him overcome the emotional abuse by his family.
1. What are some of the common legal needs of elderly clients like Norman who may be suffering from elder abuse or financial exploitation? Distinguish between Norman’s criminal and civil legal options.
Some common legal needs of elderly clients suffering from elder abuse or financial exploitation like Norman may include management of finances, assistance with court procedures or proceedings, advance planning, and housing options such as assisted living programs. In this case, discussing assisted living housing may not benefit Norman and his wife as much because their home is paid for and they both seem to have no disabilities hindering them from caring for themselves. I feel andy elderly person being abused is not fully aware of their rights or nor do they feel safe or secure enough to follow through on charges against their abusers, especially if they live in their homes. Finding legal help to assist with advance planning can help in cases as far as advanced directives being created or designating a Power of Attorney (POA).
Norman’s criminal legal options pertain to the constant assault he endures. He needs to follow through with the court proceedings of pressing charges on his sons(s) to get them removed from his home. Norman’s civil legal options consist of neglect, intimidation for finances, mental abuse, and constant mistreatment from his sons by them not providing the proper physical and emotional care for him, but also by his wife for not supporting him, standing up for him, or helping him.
2. What are some barriers that may impede Norman’s access to legal redress or representation?
Barriers that may impede Norman’s access to legal representation are the son’s being in control of his decision-making. His sons seem to know exactly what his money is used for and how much he receives. Therefore, I do not see them “allowing” him to use any of his funds to hire legal representation. I also do not see Norman leaving the home long enough to solidify all things needed to get proper representation or keeping them on retainer once he begins to feel guilty again. His love for his family is a barrier because it clouds his judgment when it comes to deciding whether to protect himself or his sons. Norman may also have the issue of finding legal representation based on his fixed income, he may have to find a lawyer who would take his case pro-bono. Norman may also just not know what much about his legal options or where to start for assistance.
3. What are Norman’s social or human services needs in this situation?
Norman needs proper personal care along with daily social and friendly interactions with people outside of the home. He needs to engage in activities and simple exercise routines to maintain his physical health. He also needs the opportunity to build positive connections with other people. He is lacking emotional support and a loss of independence which can both affect his mental health.
His human service needs consist of counseling, medical care, financial coaching, and legal assistance. He could also benefit from having a case manager who could assist with identifying a proper support system within his life for his safety issues and other resources.