Under APSA, an action may be filed on behalf of an incapacitated or vulnerable adult whose life or health is being or has been endangered by neglect, abuse, or exploitation. All three terms are defined and distinguished as follows:
Neglect: is defined as a pattern of conduct without the person’s informed consent resulting in the deprivation of food, water, medication, medical services, shelter, cooling, heating, or other services necessary to maintain minimum physical or mental health. Often, this neglect provision is violated when basic necessities might be withheld from patients in an end-of-life scenario.
Abuse: includes intentional infliction of physical harm injuries caused by negligent acts or omissions, unreasonable confinement, and/or sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Exploitation: under APSA exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of a vulnerable adult or their resources for another’s profit or advantage. An exploitation violation occurs under APSA if shown that the person in a position of trust and confidence to the vulnerable adult either failed to act for the benefit of the vulnerable adult to the same extent as a trustee or by intimidation or deception knowingly took control, title, use, or management of the vulnerable adult’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the individual of the property. This, unfortunately, often occurs when a caretaker takes money or possessions from a nursing home patient.