Understanding the Elder Abuse Laws in Arizona

“Elder abuse can happen anywhere—whether in the home of a trusted family member or caregiver or a nursing home or long-term care facility.”

 In Arizona, there are laws in place to protect elderly citizens from abuse. These laws protect seniors from being taken advantage of by those who are entrusted with their care.

In order to protect the most vulnerable among us, it is vital that family members, health care workers, and others who interact with elders become familiar with these laws and understand what they mean for protecting them.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the elder abuse laws in Arizona, as well as a few references for further information.

What Are the Different Forms of Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse includes acts of any physical, emotional, financial, or sexual mistreatment of an elderly individual. Neglect and abandonment of an elderly person can also be considered elder abuse. Sometimes, victims of elder abuse experience more than one form of abuse. Elder abuse can happen anywhere—whether in the home of a trusted family member or caregiver or a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Unfortunately, many elders are abused by their own family members or other people who have power of attorney over them. This is why it’s so important for people to be aware of the signs of elder abuse and to know how to report it. Most instances of elder abuse fall within five main categories. These categories include:

Physical Abuse

  • Dehydration or unusual weight loss
  • Missing daily aids like glasses, hearing aids, etc.
  • Unexplained bruises, injuries, sores, cuts, etc.
  • Unsanitary living conditions and poor hygeine
  • Unattended medical needs or lack of necessary medication

Emotional Abuse

  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Increased fear or anxiety
  • Unusual changes in behavior or sleep
  • Isolation from family or friends

Financial Exploitation

  • Unpaid bills
  • Fraudulent signature on financial documents
  • Unusual or sudden changes in spending patterns
  • Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents

Sexual Abuse

  • Bruising in private areas or inner thighs
  • Torn, bloody or stained undergarments
  • Pelvic Injury
  • Sudden development of sexually transmitted disease or STD
  • Engagement in inappropriate or aggressive sexual activities

Neglect or Abandonment

  • Unattended medical needs
  • poor hygiene
  • bed sores
  • unusual weight loss

If you believe an elderly individual is a victim of elder abuse, it is crucial to seek help for them right away. We will provide resources below on how to seek help or report suspected elder abuse. But first, we need to take a closer look at elder abandonment, since it can often go unnoticed.

What is Elder Abandonment?

Elder abandonment is one form of elder abuse. Elder abandonment is the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person. In most cases, the victim is a vulnerable adult who is unable to take care of him or herself.

This type of elder abuse occurs when someone who has assumed responsibility to provide care to an elderly person deserts or abandons that person. When the caregiver abandons the elderly individual both purposefully and permanently, it is considered abandonment.

In Arizona, the elder abandonment laws are tied in with the laws against elder abuse and neglect. According to Arizona state law, elder abandonment is a form of neglect. Unfortunately, elder abuse is often not reported or detected until it is too late.

What Are the Elder Abuse Laws in Arizona?

“An adult who has suffered abuse or neglect from a caregiver must meet the requirements of either being vulnerable or incapacitated.”

The state of Arizona has senior citizen abuse laws in place to protect elderly individuals from abuse and neglect. Arizona’s elder abuse laws are designed to protect vulnerable adults from harm and to hold abusers accountable for their actions.

According to Arizona’s Adult Protective Services Act, a successful claim for abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult must meet requirements set forth by the statute. A.R.S. § 46-455.

An adult who has suffered abuse or neglect from a caregiver must meet the requirements of either being vulnerable or incapacitated.

In addition to state laws that address elder abuse and neglect, there are also federal laws in place to protect older individuals.

The federal Elder Justice Act makes it a requirement for certain individuals at long-term care facilities to report any crimes that are committed against elderly residents.

How to Report Suspected Elder Abuse

If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused, neglected, or exploited, you should contact one of the resources below so they can investigate the case and help the victim get the resources they need. The elderly can be helped by speaking up about their situation in order to prevent further harm from occurring.

  • If an older adult is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911
  • Adult Protective Services (APS) – 1-877-766-3247
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office
  • Attorney General’s Office

Is Elder Neglect a Crime?

Yes, elder abuse and neglect are crimes in the state of Arizona. In fact, it is classified as a Felony. The perpetrator of the crime—legally referred to as the defendant may face criminal action and punishment depending on the severity of the incident.

If the case does move forward to a trial, the victim and any witnesses may need to testify. While the prospect of testifying at a trial may be daunting, it is important to report elder abuse and neglect to make sure that everything possible is done to protect an elderly victim. You may even be helping countless others by helping to ensure that a perpetrator of abuse is stopped.

The civil case, which compensates victims for damages, allows for the recovery of damages, or potentially injunctive relief against the at-fault facility. This would, potentially, allow a victim to shut down the facility under extreme circumstances with a court order.

Elder Abuse and Other Considerations Under Arizona Law

“One extremely important consideration when considering filing an elder abuse case is the relevant statute of limitation.”

In addition to defining what elder abuse is and what facts must be present in order to bring a successful claim, there are also other laws and considerations to keep in mind during an elder abuse case. One extremely important consideration when considering filing an elder abuse case is the relevant statute of limitation.

Under Arizona law, a claim for abuse or neglect of an elderly (or any vulnerable adult) must be filed within two years from the date of injury or the actual discovery of the cause of action. An elder abuse lawyer in Arizona can help you understand how the statute of limitations may impact your case.

It is also essential to understand that there may also be other causes of action that may be applicable depending on the facts of your elder abuse law case. For example, the defendant caregiver may also be liable for medical malpractice, wrongful death, or negligence.

Contact Goodnow McKay if You Need an Experienced Elder Abuse Attorney in Arizona

The Arizona elder abuse attorneys of Goodnow McKay have fought tirelessly for the rights of their clients for many years and have obtained successful outcomes in a number of different cases involving elder abuse and neglect. Our attorneys are fiercely committed to working hard to achieve the best outcomes for their clients.

Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and begin moving forward with your elder abuse case to pursue justice.