Caring for an elderly loved one is often a full-time job. Caregivers must ensure the senior receives basic care and assistance, but they should also take steps to provide a good quality of life through social interaction and mental stimulation.
For some people, these responsibilities are too much to bear. Instead of reaching out for help, some choose to abandon their duties and their loved one permanently. This is known as elder abandonment, which can have many damaging effects.
Elder Abandonment vs. Elder Neglect
While both are a form of elder abuse, abandonment involves taking an elderly loved one to a hospital, clinic, or some other public location and leaving them there. Conversely, elder neglect involves a lack of care when a senior needs assistance. This can range from failing to provide nutritious meals to being derelict in bathing and grooming duties, which can leave a person prone to illness or infections.
State and Federal Elder Abuse Laws
On the federal level, the Elder Justice Act requires staff members at assisted living and other care facilities to inform local law enforcement of abuse or neglect directed towards a vulnerable person. In New Mexico, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Act investigates claims of abuse and neglect when they’re received. Additionally, the state’s Caregiver Aftercare Designation Act enables a senior or their legal guardian to name a person responsible for providing care upon being discharged from a nursing home or hospital.
What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
Any person in New Mexico who witnesses or suspects any form of elder abuse has a duty to report the issue to Adult Protective Services. Once the matter has been reported, the next step is to secure a safe living environment for the abandoned elderly person.
From there, you may consider your legal options if your loved one has been harmed by the neglect or abandonment. Filing a claim against the party responsible for the abuse deters others from committing the same acts. It can also provide compensation to your loved one to ensure their basic living expenses can be met.
In Albuquerque, Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero, P.C. proudly provides legal services to the most vulnerable people in society. Our elder care attorneys are well-versed in state and federal laws. We also defend the best interests of our clients passionately to ensure their well-being.