Glossary of Terms

Maltreatment means abuse, neglect or exploitation

Maltreatment: An act or omission that threatens the health, safety or welfare of a vulnerable adult or child, or which exposed the adult/child to a situation or conditions that poses an imminent risk of death  or serious bodily injury. [ – glossary]

Abuse (elder abuse) means any act or failure to act performed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly that causes or is likely to cause harm.  Abuse includes infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish.  Abuse includes any sexual act where the vulnerable adult does not consent or when the other person knows or should know that the vulnerable adult is incapable of resisting or declining consent to the sexual act due to mental deficiency or disease, or due to fear of retribution or hardship.  Abuse includes the omission or deprivation by a caretaker or another person of goods or services which are necessary to avoid physical or mental harm or illness.

Abuse includes any unreasonable or inappropriate use of physical restraint, medication, or isolation that causes or is likely to cause harm to a vulnerable adult; a threat or menacing conduct directed toward a resident that results or might reasonably be expected to result in fear or emotional or mental distress to a vulnerable adult.

Abuse means the willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation by a caretaker of services which are necessary to maintain mental and physical health. [N.C. Article 6 – Protection of the Abused, Neglected or Exploited Disabled Adult Act]

Abandonment means a knowing or intentional action or inaction, including desertion, by a person or entity acting as a caretaker for a vulnerable adult that leaves the vulnerable adult without the means or ability to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical or other health care.

Adult means a person eighteen (18) years of age or older who, because of mental or physical illness or impairment, is unable to manage his or her own resources, carry out the activity of daily living, or protect himself or herself from neglect, exploitation, or a hazardous or abusive situation without assistance from others, and who may be in need of protective services. [Kentucky revised statutes, Chapter 209.020]

Alzheimer’s disease means a progressive, degenerative disease or condition that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior. [GA codes, Chapter 16, Protection of Elder Persons]

Business relationship means a relationship between two or more individuals or entities where there exists an oral or written agreement for the exchange of goods or services.

Caretaker means any person, entity, corporation, or public institution that assumes the responsibility to provide a vulnerable adult with care, food, shelter, clothing, supervision, medical or other health care, or other necessities.  Caretaker includes a relative by blood or marriage, a household member, a person who is employed or who provides volunteer work, or a person who contracts or is under court order to provide care.

Consent means express written consent granted after the vulnerable adult or his or her legal representative has been fully informed of the nature of the services to be offered and that the receipt of services is voluntary.

Capacity to consent means the mental ability to make a rational decision, which includes the ability to perceive, appreciate all relevant facts and to reach a rational judgment upon such facts. A decision itself to refuse services cannot be the sole evidence for finding the person lacks capacity to consent [TN Adult Protection Act, Chapter. 6]

Deception includes a misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact relating to services rendered, disposition of property, or use of property intended to benefit a vulnerable adult; Deception can be found in the terms of a contract or agreement entered into with a vulnerable adult; existing or preexisting condition of any property involved in a contract or agreement entered into with a vulnerable adult; or the use or employment of any misrepresentation, false pretense, or false promise in order to induce, encourage, or solicit a vulnerable adult to enter into a contract or agreement.

Dementia means an irreversible global loss of cognitive function causing evident intellectual impairment which always includes memory loss, without alteration of state of consciousness, as diagnosed by a physician, and is severe enough to interfere with work or social activities, or both, and to require at least intermittent care or supervision; or the comatose state of an adult resulting from any head injury. [GA codes, Chapter 16, Protection of Elder Persons]

Disabled adult shall mean any person 18 years of age or over or any lawfully emancipated minor who is physically or mentally incapacitated due to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or autism; organic brain damage caused by advanced age or other physical degeneration in connection therewith; or due to conditions incurred at any age which are the result of accident, organic brain damage, mental or physical illness, or continued consumption or absorption of substances. [N.C. Article 6]

Elder adult (elderly person, older adult) means a person 65 years of age or older.

Essential services means social, medical, psychiatric, or legal services necessary to safeguard a disabled adult’s, elder person’s, or resident’s rights and resources and to maintain the physical and mental well-being of such person. Such services may include, but not be limited to, the provision of medical care for physical and mental health needs, assistance in personal hygiene, food, clothing, adequately heated and ventilated shelter, and protection from health and safety hazards. [GA codes, Chapter 16, Protection of Elder Persons]

Emergency means any adult is living in conditions that present a clear and substantial risk of death or immediate and serious physical harm to himself or others. Emergency includes situations where irreparable harm can occur if immediate protective services are not provided; or where a vulnerable or disabled adult is unable to consent to services, and no responsible, able, or willing caretaker is available to consent to emergency services.

Emotional abuse means language or behavior that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to be intimidating, humiliating, threatening, frightening, or otherwise harassing, and that does or reasonably could intimidate, humiliate, threaten, frighten, or otherwise harass the individual to whom the conduct or language is directed. [Wisconsin – Sect. 46.90 Elder Abuse Reporting System]

Exploitation means any action which involves the misuse of a vulnerable funds, property or person.  [Maryland Adult Protective Services – Title 14]. Exploitation includes intentionally taking unfair advantage of or misappropriating a vulnerable adult’s physical or financial property or resources for another individual’s (caretaker, friend, family member, etc) personal or financial advantage by the use of undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation or false pretense.

Exploitation means the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with an elderly person or person with a disability that involves using, or attempting to use, the resources of the elderly person or person with a disability, including the person’s social security number or other identifying information, for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the person. [Texas Statutes, Human Resources Code Chapter 48]

Financial exploitation (relative to a vulnerable elder) means when a person stands in a position of trust or confidence with the vulnerable elder and knowingly and by undue influence, deception, coercion, fraud, or extortion, obtains control over or otherwise uses or diverts the benefits, property, income, resources, trust funds belongings, or assets of the vulnerable elder.  Financial exploitation includes breach of a fiduciary duty, including, but not limited to, the misuse of a power of attorney, trust, or a guardianship appointment, that results in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the vulnerable adult; or obtaining or using a vulnerable adult’s property, income, resources, or trust funds without lawful authority, by a person or entity who knows or clearly should know that the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to the release or use of these or other items.

Financial institution means any bank, trust company, escrow company, finance company, saving institution or credit union, chartered and supervised under state or federal law.

Harm means pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, hurt, physical or psychological damage, physical injury, suffering, or distress inflicted knowingly or intentionally.

Incapacitated older adult means an older adult who, because of one or more functional limitations, needs the assistance of another person to perform or obtain services necessary to maintain physical or mental health. [PA, Chapter 15, Protective Services for Older Adults]

Incapacitated person means any adult who is impaired by reason of mental illness, intellectual disability, physical illness or disability, advanced age or other causes to the extent that the person lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate and/or carry out reasonable decisions concerning the person’s self or resources, with or without the assistance of a caretaker.

Reasonable decisions are decisions made in daily living which facilitate the provision of food, shelter, clothing, and health care necessary for life support. [OH, Adult Protect Services – 5101.60]
Informed consent means consent obtained for a proposed course of protective service provision. The consent shall be based on a reasonable attempt to provide information which conveys, at a minimum, the risks, alternatives and outcomes of the various modes of protective service provision available under the circumstances.

Intimidation means communication conveyed through verbal or nonverbal conduct which threatens deprivation of money, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, social interaction, supervision, health care, or companionship, or which threatens isolation or harm.

Isolation means knowingly or intentionally preventing a vulnerable adult from having contact with another person by preventing the vulnerable adult from receiving visitors, mail, or telephone calls, contrary to the express wishes of the vulnerable adult, including communicating to a visitor that the vulnerable adult is not present or does not want to meet with or talk to the visitor, knowing that communication to be false; physically restraining the vulnerable adult in order to prevent the vulnerable adult from meeting with a visitor; or making false or misleading statements to the vulnerable adult in order to induce the vulnerable adult to refuse to receive communication from visitors or other family members.

Lacks capacity to consent means an impairment by reason of mental illness, developmental disability, organic brain disorder, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, short-term memory loss, or other cause to the extent that a vulnerable adult lacks sufficient understanding of the nature or consequences of decisions concerning the adult’s person or property.

Neglect means the failure or omission by the vulnerable adult, caretaker or another person with a duty to provide goods or services which are reasonably necessary to ensure safety and well-being and to avoid physical or mental harm or illness.  Neglect includes harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by the inability of the adult to respond to a harmful situation or by the conduct of a person who assumes responsibility for a significant aspect of the adult’s health or welfare.  Neglect includes failure to provide nutrition, clothing, shelter, cooling, heating, or other services, supervision, personal care, or dental or other health care, or failure to provide protection from health and safety hazards or maltreatment; abandonment by a caretaker.

Personal Exploitation means an act of forcing, compelling, or exerting undue influence over a vulnerable adult causing the vulnerable adult to act in a way that is inconsistent with relevant past behavior, or causing the vulnerable adult to perform services.

Position of trust and confidence means the position of a person who is a parent, spouse, adult child, or other relative by blood or marriage of a vulnerable adult.  A person in a position of trust includes on who has a legal or fiduciary relationship with a vulnerable adult, including a court-appointed or voluntary guardian, trustee, attorney, or conservator; a caretaker, or joint tenant a vulnerable adult.

Protective services means services provided by the state or other governmental agency or any private organizations or individuals which are necessary to prevent abuse, neglect or exploitation. Such protective services include, but are limited to evaluation of the need for services, assistance in obtaining appropriate social services and assistance in securing medical and legal services. [Kansas Statutes 39-1401]

Self-neglect means the failure of a vulnerable adult, not living in a facility, to provide for himself or herself the goods and services necessary for the vulnerable adult’s physical or mental health, and the absence of which impairs or threatens the vulnerable adult’s well-being. This definition may include a vulnerable adult who is receiving services through home health, hospice, or a home care agency, or an individual provider when the neglect is not the result of inaction by that agency or individual provider.

Undue influence occurs when a person uses the person’s role, relationship, or power to exploit, or knowingly assist or cause another to exploit, the trust, dependency, or fear of a vulnerable adult, or uses the person’s role, relationship, or power to gain control deceptively over the decision making of the vulnerable adult against the vulnerable adult’s best interest.

Vulnerable adult means a person 60 years of age or older who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself; or an adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to protect their own interest.  Vulnerable adults are unable to provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical or other health care; obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare; carry out the activities of daily living; manage their own resources; or comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  Vulnerable adults may be harmed or threatened with financial, mental or physical harm by either their own or another individual’s action or inaction, either in their own homes, adult family home, assisted living facilities, etc.