Elder Law – Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
What is Elder Abuse?
“Elder Abuse” typically refers to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of an elder person. Elder abuse is often committed by a family member who tries to control the funds of an elder person.
What is Elder Neglect?
“Neglect” occurs when a caretaker, including a facility, fails to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing and/or supportive services.
What is Financial Exploitation?
“Financial exploitation” involves a person, usually a close relative or friend, taking advantage of an elderly person. Scams and abusing power over finances are exploitation.
How Do I Report Abuse or Exploitation?
If you are in an emergency situation, please dial 911. If the situation is not life-threatening, there are several ways to report abuse and neglect:
- Police or Sheriff’s Office
- Adult Protective Services
- Montana Legal Services Association
- Area Agency on Aging
- Local Ombudsman
- Office of Consumer Protection
What Kind of Help Can I Get?
Only local law enforcement and prosecutors can investigate and charge crimes. There are different kinds of help for victims of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation provided by state agencies and non-profit organizations.
What Services Does Montana Legal Services Association Provide?
MLSA can provide free legal information, advice, and representation in civil, non-criminal, cases to persons over the age of 60 years who have been abused, neglected, or exploited. MLSA can also provide assistance finding resources for non-legal problems. Call MLSA at 1-800-666-6899 or apply online at: www.mtlsa.org.
What Services does Montana DPHHS Provide?
The Legal Services Developer, in the Office on Aging, provides elder law training and resources to seniors, family members, and social outreach workers. The program also provides pro bono and local legal services referrals, training materials and telephone assistance. Call 1-800- 332-2272 (normal business hours). You can also visit http://dphhs.mt.gov/sltc/aging/legalservicesdeveloper.
Adult Protective Services protects vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation by investigating and referring victims to resources and community partners. You can call APS at 1-844-277-9300, or go online to their website at: http://dphhs.mt.gov/SLTC/APS
What Services Do Ombudsman Provide?
Local ombudsman can help residents in long-term care facilities to exercise their rights. Ombudsman can investigate reports of abuse or neglect made by the victim, family, or other persons. You can call the state Ombudsman at 1-800-332-2272, or reach your local Ombudsman at 1-800-551-3191, or visit https://dphhs.mt.gov/sltc/aging/longtermcareombudsman
What Services Does the Office for Consumer Protection Provide?
OCP enforces consumer laws designed to protect customers from deceptive business practices. OCP can file claims on behalf of the financially exploited victim. You can call OCP at 1-800-481-6896 or visit https://dojmt.gov/consumer/
What Services Do Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) Provide?
AAAs provide a network of organizations that serve the elderly population (60+) of their local area. There are 10 AAAs addressing health care, retirement, housing, employment, and community services. You can call AAA at 1-800-551-3191, or visit their webpage at: http://dphhs.mt.gov/sltc/ aging/areaagenciesonaging
How Do I Get More Help?
Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil legal help to low-income people. Contact us to see if you qualify:
- Apply Online at mtlsa.org; or
- Call our Helpline: 1-800-666-6899 (Helpline hours are limited).
What Help Can I Find at MLSA?
- Legal advice and representation;
- Referrals to volunteer attorneys and other resource providers;
- Self-help clinics and materials.