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Pennsylvania Seminar Outlines Elder Abuse

A seminar held early last month in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, outlined Pennsylvania’s elder-abuse problem and discussed measures to help protect senior citizens. The Monroe County Area Agency on Aging, which sponsored the seminar, reports 12,000 cases of elder abuse every year in Pennsylvania. But they estimate that this number represents just ten percent of the actual number of incidents. This is despite the fact that the commonwealth’s Older Adult Protective Services Act is supposed to protect elderly citizens who lack the ability to fully protect themselves. (In passing the Act in 2003, the commonwealth became the next-to-last state to pass legislation to protect the elderly.)

According to the agency, most victims of elder abuse are over the age of eighty and tend to be dependent upon others. Abusers are generally middle-aged. In half of all cases of abuse, the abusers are family members; paid care-takers are the abusers in the other half. Dependency on the part of elders can be physical, emotional or financial. In some cases, especially in cases involving financial dependence, abusers take advantage of the dependency to the elder’s detriment. More serious cases can involve pain, unreasonable confinement, the withholding food or drink, verbal abuse and intimidation, sexual harassment and even rape. Neglect and abandonment are also severe forms of elder abuse.

Around twenty-seven percent of reported cases occur in nursing homes or other long-term facilities. Abuse in nursing home is not always as evident as abuse that happens elsewhere. It often takes the form of neglect or substandard care. Other signs include poor hygiene of residents, residents wearing unclean or inappropriate clothing, hazardous conditions, bed sores, wounds and sudden weight loss or dehydration. The appearance of depression and complaints of being restrained for extended periods of time also may indicate nursing home malpractice.

Many seniors are either unable or unwilling to report incidents of abuse, due to physical or mental inability or fear of retaliation. It is therefore extremely important for loved ones—or anyone for that matter—to keep their eyes open for signs of abuse towards elders. The Monroe County Area Agency on Aging urges people to report incidents to the proper authorities. Such reports can be issued anonymously. Following a report, an investigator will be sent and if the report is substantiated, steps will be taken to ensure that the abuse stops and that patients are cared for and protected.

Placing a loved one in a nursing facility is difficult enough without having to worry about the quality of care received. Our attorneys have successfully defended the rights of thousands of elder care abuse victims and their families. If you, or someone you know, have been a victim of elder care abuse, please contact us at for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to assist in all aspects of your litigation.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after a nursing home to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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