More HH Legal Updates

Houston Harbaugh is a full service law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh and serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. This collection of blogs further highlights the firms capabilities in several practice areas.

Elder Abuse is More Prevalent than You May Think

We take care of ourselves better now than before. Our elderly population is more active in society than it was before. We live longer today than we did before. However, this opens the door for more cases of elder abuse and neglect. This is especially true in Pennsylvania as it is reported that the Commonwealth has the fourth oldest population in the United States.

Elder abuse is defined by the American Psychological Association as the infliction of physical, emotional/psychological, sexual or financial harm on an older adult. Elder abuse can take the form of intentional or unintentional neglect of an older adult by a caregiver.

Most cases go unreported. Victims are often too ashamed to reveal the abuse, or worried that reporting it will make matters worse. This is likely because almost 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents happen at the hands of a family member. Two-thirds of the perpetrators are adult children or spouses. Other classes of persons often found to be the abusers are friends and neighbors, and home care aides.

  • According to the World Health Organization:
  • Around 1 in 10 older people experience abuse every month.
  • Rates of abuse may be higher for older people living in institutions than in the community.
  • Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.
  • Elder abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly aging populations.
  • The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.

Whether your loved one lives in a skilled nursing facility, at home and receives in-home care by a spouse or a caregiver, or by themselves, you should always be on the lookout for signs of abuse. Sign or symptoms of elder abuse may include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive or unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or broken bones
  • A desire to be by oneself, nervous or withdrawn
  • Unusual bank withdrawals or “gifts”
  • Random transfers of assets, such as real estate, automobiles or jewelry

Because they may be weaker, isolated, or dependent on the care of others, older individuals are easy, vulnerable targets for abuse. So, keep a close eye on your loved one. Question your loved one on any unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or broken bones. Ask her what happened and see if she can provide you with a believable or probable explanation. Question your loved one’s caregivers and doctors about any troubling or unusual characteristics. Be on the lookout for unusual changes to your loved one’s financial situation, including unaccounted-for checks, a sudden change in financial position, or the sudden inability to pay bills. If your loved one’s explanations do not seem supported by facts or probable events, use the resources available in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help protect her.

An abundance of resources are available online that provide information on the warning signs of elder abuse and where to turn if abuse is suspected. For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration on Aging:

Another resource is the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Elder Abuse Unit:

In Allegheny County, a resource to view is

Also, in Pennsylvania, you can report abuse to the 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline through the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services at 1-800-490-8505, or 1-866-623-2137 through the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Elder Abuse Unit. Abuse can be reported by you, or on behalf of your loved one. In most cases, the reports remain anonymous, and an investigation will be conducted by an appropriate agency.

Additionally, there are actions that can be taken by a private lawyer. This may include petitioning the court to become a guardian over your loved one if she lacks the necessary capacity to make her own decisions and does not have an appropriate power of attorney, or the current agent under an existing power of attorney is perpetuating the elder abuse. Other actions may include bringing litigation to try to recoup money or property illicitly acquired by the perpetrator of the abuse. If not already in place, an elder law attorney can assist with preparation of a Will, an Advanced Health Care Directive, and a Financial Power of Attorney – of which the latter two will allow for a trusted advisor to assist in making decisions about medical care, living arrangements, or financial decisions.

For more information about how we can assist you, please contact us.

About Us

Trusted and Cost-Effective Business Law, Business Litigation and Estate Planning Attorneys and Counselors; Building Client Confidence™ with Businesses and Individuals Since 1975

Our firm offers individualized solutions and the highest quality, client-driven and cost effective legal services. Houston Harbaugh, P.C., is a well-known law firm in Pittsburgh, serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Our diverse practice areas include Business Law, Business Litigation, Estate and Succession Planning, Intellectual Property Litigation and Prosecution, Employment and Labor, Employee Benefits, Oil and Gas, Landowner and Property Dispute Counseling and Litigation, Health Care, Environmental, Real Estate, Construction, Complex Tort and Catastrophic Injury Litigation, Insurance coverage and Bad Faith Law, Mediation, Arbitration and Special Master appointment work. As one of the 20 largest law firms in Pittsburgh, our lawyers serve clients on a regional and national basis.

We regularly represent regional, national and international insurance carriers in defense, insurance coverage, unfair trade practices and bad faith matters, and we issue opinions letters and coverage analyses for insurers. We defend designers, manufacturers and sellers in pharmaceutical, products and medical products liability matters and we litigate and try cases involving catastrophic injuries, industrial accidents, toxic torts, professional, engineering and architectural negligence, and agent and broker claims and lawsuits.

Why Houston Harbaugh, P.C.? The Answer Is Clear.

We are accomplished litigators with a strong track record of success in the courtroom and in jury trials. We design and manage business transactions, succession planning, banking and regulatory issues. Our firm has regularly been featured in the U.S. News “Best Lawyers”® rankings of Pittsburgh’s “Best Law Firms.” Our attorneys are also regularly nominated as “Best Lawyers” in this publication. In addition, many of our attorneys are consistently recognized in the annual national Super Lawyers peer review rankings, and our corporate practice has been selected as the winner of The Legal Intelligencer’s Best Law Firm Corporate Practices contest for the Midsize Firm category. Our property and landowner counseling and litigation practice in Oil and Gas and Real Estate is ranked at the top on a regional basis. We help clients to apply for, prosecute, audit, manage and protect intellectual property rights in patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets. We are admitted to the USPTO and have experience in the TTAB. Some of our firm’s shareholders are Adjunct Professors of Law at the Duquesne University School of Law in litigation and intellectual property courses.

Helping You Achieve Your Goals For Over 40 Years

Since our inception as a health care practice in 1975, our attorneys have represented clients in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and throughout the nation. We have grown into a multi-disciplinary practice with the ability to handle complex business transactional and litigation matters. We counsel on estate and succession planning and on trust and guardianship matters. We have a strong employment and labor practice. We represent clients in trade secret counseling and federal Defend Trade Secret Act (DTSA) counseling and litigation. Our DTSALaw® practice group is well versed in this federal body of trade secret law. We counsel, draft, litigate and defend claims involving employment non-compete, restrictive covenants, non-disclosure agreements and breach of contract matters. We service clients in the collection of debts and in bankruptcy creditor matters. Houston Harbaugh litigates in Orphans and Probate courts for matters involving estates and trusts. We also provide mediation and arbitration services to parties involved in litigation and our lawyers are currently serving as court appointed special masters in the Federal Courts.

Contact us and Learn How We Can Help You and Your Business

For more information on how we can help you, call our Pittsburgh office at 412-281-5060. You can also reach us online.

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