Elder abandonment is a serious problem in our society and many thousands of people every year suffer from the consequences of this issue. Whether it’s neglect, irresponsibility or malicious action, it’s an issue that has to be addressed, as it can threaten any family who has the responsibility of caring for a senior. Understand why elderly abandonment is an issue, how you can avoid it, and how a solid estate planning attorney can be of help in this area.

What Is Elderly Abandonment?

Elderly abandonment occurs when someone responsible for the care of an elderly person deserts or otherwise fails to provide the necessary care. In Ohio, neglect is essentially defined as failing to provide the goods and services necessary to avoid the risk of physical or mental harm or illness, and abuse refers to the act of inflicting or otherwise knowingly or recklessly causing harm, anguish or pain to another person.

Abandoning an elderly person would qualify as abuse by neglect under state statutes. Usually elderly abandonment can be defined as deliberate desertion of a senior in need of care, be it by dropping them off at a care facility or leaving them in a public place. Note that just because someone leaves an elderly relative at a care facility, that doesn’t mean they haven’t abandoned them, especially if they just drop them off and leave them there.

Effects of Abandoning a Senior Loved One

The effects of abandonment can be devastating. If the senior is afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s or another cognitive impairment, they could forget who they are, where they belong, or even what they need to do, to seek treatment for their condition. Even if they aren’t suffering from a cognitive issue, the effects of abandonment can lead them to depression, illness, and even death. It’s every bit as bad as any other form of neglect.

Causes of Elder Abandonment

There are a number of contributing factors to elder abandonment. The person in charge of providing care could feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with the responsibility. They might be unreasonably resentful to the point where they can’t deal with the situation anymore. In the worst cases, they are vindictive in their actions.

In some cases the abandonment occurs because the responsibility falls into someone’s lap because it hasn’t been properly defined or shared. These cases, unfortunately, are all too common and can result from poor estate or end of life planning. It’s important for loved ones of elderly people to understand how responsibilities will be split and shared among the family.

How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

Estate planning attorneys do far more than just help to file wills. They can work with the family to establish a clear delineation of responsibilities should a senior loved one fall under the need for care. Rather than placing all of the responsibility on one person, everyone can agree to take on a part, thus spreading the responsibility around and making it far easier to deal with.

If you may be facing the need to care for a loved one, contact the experienced, respected and specialized attorneys at the Stano Law Firm. We can work with you for all aspects of elder estate planning, from living wills to ongoing care agreements. Give us a call to see how we can help you today.