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Terminology

A B C E F G H L M N O P R S T V W
A
• Abuse

Physical Abuse—Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.

Emotional Abuse—Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.

Sexual Abuse—Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, coercing an elder to witness sexual behaviors.

Financial Exploitation—Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.

Neglect—Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.

Abandonment—The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

• Adult Protective Services (Adult Protection)
Refers to social services programs, in state and local governments, that assist seniors and adults with disabilities. Adult Protective Services is frequently the first to respond in cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation, although their work is allied with other professionals in health care and law enforcement.

• Assisted Living Facilities

Long term care option that offers varying degrees of personal and medical care within a home-like setting. In Minnesota they are also called housing with services. Such facilities range from a private room or an apartment to a multiunit facility specializing in Alzheimer's care.

• Attorney General
The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State of Minnesota. The Office provides legal representation to over 100 state agencies, boards, and commissions and represents the State of Minnesota in state and federal court and administrative hearings.

• Attorney-In-Fact
A person appointed to make financial decisions and sign documents on behalf of someone else (the “principal.”) People do not have to go to court to set up a Power of Attorney.

B

• Bruise or bruising
An injury to the underlying soft tissue or bone in which the skin is not broken, often characterized by ruptured blood vessels and discolorations.

C

• Caregiver
An individual or facility who has responsibility for the care of a vulnerable adult as a result of a family relationship, or who has assumed responsibility for all or a portion of the care of a vulnerable adult voluntarily, by contract or by agreement.

• Conservatorship
A person appointed to make financial decisions for the protected person. The conservator typically has the power to enter into contracts, pay bills, invest assets, and perform other financial functions for the protected person. A court-appointed person appointed to act as the legal representative of a person who is mentally or physically incapable of managing his or her affairs.

E

• Elder Law Attorney
A civil attorney who may specialize in one or more areas of law particularly relevant to elders including: traditional planning needs (wills, trusts, taxes, and pension planning), elder abuse, exploitation and neglect, long-term health care planning, nursing home care, Medicare, Medical Assistance, Social Security, and other public benefits

• Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse, also referred to as psychological abuse or mental abuse, is characterized by a person who causes or threatens mental pain, anguish or distress with words or actions.

F

• Fiduciary Relationship
Where one person puts trust in another to manage or control one’s personal affairs. Though not always formally created, the relationship has legal significance and persons who are considered fiduciaries may owe certain legal duties to the other. Fiduciary exploitation can occur when the person in control mismanages funds, willfully benefits to the detriment of the other, or unethical or illegal behaviors.

• Financial Exploitation
Improper taking, misuse or concealment of funds, property, or assets.

G

• Guardianship
A guardian is appointed by the court to make personal decisions for the protected person.

H

• Healthcare Directive
A health care directive is a written document that informs other of your wishes about your health care. It allows you to name a person ("agent") to decide for you if you are unable to decide. It also allows you to name an agent if you want someone else to decide for you. You must be at least 18 years old to make a health care directive. Minnesota Statute 145C.02 provides the basic legal framework for healthcare directives.

• Hoarding
Hoarding is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of, and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.

L

• Living Will
Before Minnesota Law recognized Healthcare Directives, living will was a document in which a person directed another to make certain decisions regarding healthcare. The term is still used in common language, but has no legal significance under Minnesota Law.

• Long Term Care
Broad spectrum of medical and support services provided to persons who have lost some or all capacity to function on their own, and who are expected to need such services over a prolonged period of time.

• Long Term Care Ombudsman
An ombudsman is an independent consumer advocate. A long term care ombudsmen investigates complaints concerning the health, safety, welfare and rights of a person, works to identify problems and resolve individual concerns and offers information and consultation about long-term care services and consumer rights and regulations. An ombudsman also resolves disputes between consumers and providers about long-term care services while working with providers to promote a culture of person-directed living. Advocate for patient/resident rights and improvements in the long term care system.

M

• Maltreatment of a Vulnerable Adult
Maltreatment is a general term that includes abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

• Mandated Reporter
Professionals who, in the ordinary course of their work and because they have regular contact with children, disabled persons, senior citizens, or other identified vulnerable populations, are required to report (or cause a report to be made) whenever financial, physical, sexual or other types of abuse have been observed or are suspected, or when there is evidence of neglect. Mandated reporters include persons who have assumed full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of a child, dependent adult, or elder, whether or not they are compensated for their services.

• Mediation
Mediation is a process of resolving disputes through compromise and settlement. Families may turn to mediation when the stresses of care giving, finances, and decisions on care near the end of life result in conflicts. Elder care mediators come from such disciplines as law, psychology, and social work.

N

• Neglect
Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection, including abandonment.

• Nursing Homes
Nursing home" means a facility or that part of a facility which provides nursing care to five or more persons. "Nursing care" means health evaluation and treatment of patients and residents who are not in need of an acute care facility but who require nursing supervision on an inpatient basis.

O

• Order for Protection
An Order for Protection (OFP) is a form of legal injunction that requires a party to do, or to refrain from doing, certain acts. A party that refuses to comply with an order faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions. Breaches of restraining orders can be considered serious criminal offences that merit arrest and possible prison sentences.

P

• Physical abuse
Is an act of another person or persons involving physical contact intended to cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. Including but not limited to hitting, kicking, slapping, grabbing or punching.

• Principal
The person who creates a Power of Attorney document and they give authority to another adult who is called an “Attorney-In-Fact”. The principal has the right to revoke or cancel the Power of Attorney at any time and does not give up decision making power by creating a Power of Attorney.

• Power of Attorney
A written document often used when someone wants to designate another adult (“Attorney-In-Fact”) to handle financial or property matters.

R

• Restitution
Restitution is reimbursement from the defendant to the victim(s) for out-of-pocket losses and expenses directly resulting from a crime. It may be included as part of a criminal court-ordered sentence after a defendant enters a plea agreement or is found guilty.

S

• Sexual Abuse
Unwanted sexual contact of any kind including forcing an elder to witness sexual behaviors.

• Self-Neglect
Self neglect refers to situations in which there is no perpetrator and neglect is the result of the older person refusing care.

T

• Trust
A legal tool into which a person can transfer assets for the benefit of another person or persons (known as beneficiaries). A trust is managed by a trustee who must follow the instructions of the creator of the trust and applicable laws when dispersing the funds or other contents of the trust.

V

• Victim Services
Provided by the County Attorney’s office, the Victim Services office often may provide specially-trained advocates offer information and support to victims of crime, including elder abuse.

• Vulnerable Adult
An individual over the age of 18 who receives certain types of health services or has physical or mental impairments that put him or her at risk.

W

• Witness
Someone who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced

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