To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart.
And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love.
I’ll take a look at two questions answered in the new law. First – who is an “at risk adult” subject to this law, and second – who are the mandatory reporters? Here’s the link from my previous post about the new law. Our system of anonymous reporting will come to an end as law enforcement agencies will be collecting information and making these reports. Okay – very briefly, while we’re on the topic of the reports – these will contain the names and contact information of the at-risk elder and the reporter, the identity of any caretaker/caregiver, the name of the alleged perpetrator, along with the nature and the extent of the injuries. Within twenty-four hours of receiving the report, law enforcement must notify the county Adult Protective Services (APS) or the District Attorney’s office where the abuse or neglect occurred.
To reiterate, the law defines an at-risk adult as “any person who is seventy years of age or older or any person who is eighteen years of age or older and is a person with a disability.” Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-6.5.102(2). Person with a disability is defined in §18-6.5.102(11) as: any person who is impaired because of the loss of or permanent loss of use of a hand or foot or because of blindness or the permanent impairment of vision of both eyes to such a degree as to constitute virtual blindness; is unable to walk, see, hear, or speak; is unable to breathe without mechanical assistance; is developmentally disabled as defined in section 27-65-102(11),C.R.S.; is a person with a mental illness as the term is defined in section 27-65-102(14), C.R.S.; is mentally impaired as the term is defined in section 24-34-301(2.5)(b)(III), C.R.S.; is blind as that term is defined in section 26-2-103(3), C.R.S.; or is receiving care and treatment for a developmental disability under article 10.5 of title 27, C.R.S.
Here’s a quick list of the mandatory reporters according to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-108(1)(a)-(1)(b) who must report such suspected abuse on and after July 1, 2014:
- Health care providers and other medical personnel including: Physicians, surgeons, physicians’ assistants, osteopaths, physicians in training, podiatrists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists; medical examiners and coroners; registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse practitioners; Emergency medical service providers; chiropractors; dentists; pharmacists
- Health care facility and mental health: hospital and long-term care facility personnel engaged in the admission, care, or treatment of patients; psychologists and other mental health professionals; social work practitioners;
- Clergy members (with exceptions);
- Law enforcement officials and personnel;
- Court-appointed guardians and conservators;
- Fire protection personnel;
- Community-centered board staff (think senior center or the like);
- Financial Institutions including: personnel of banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and other lending or financial institutions;
- Care Providers including: a caretaker, staff member, employee, or consultant for a licensed or certified care facility, agency, home, or governing board, including but not limited to home health providers; and a caretaker, staff member, employee of, or a consultant for, a home care placement agency, as defined in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-27.5-102(5).
The statute also provides for immunity from prosecution for a reporter (unless the reporter is the perpetrator, co-conspirator or complicitor.
So what happens after a report is made? This will be the subject of law enforcement training and will be interesting to see how the system works. At this point, it looks like Adult Protective Services and law enforcement agencies will share responsibility for reporting and investigation. Based on this new law, it is reasonable to assume that the APS reporting will be shifted more to law enforcement in accordance with the goals of the new statute. It is also worth noting that the definition of “abuse” in 18-6.5-102 is broad and interpreted expansively.
One last point I’d like to share. . . . An interesting and often overlooked question is what happens to the civil rights of older adults, when as a matter of chronological age and sometimes other circumstances, a person is categorized as an elder and entitled to protections based on their potential status as victim. Here’s a link to an article by Nina Kohn from 2009 entitled “Outliving Civil Rights.” Kohn is a law professor and discusses the intersection of constitutional rights and mandatory reporting. Whether one views these laws designed to protect elders as helpful or paternalistic is a matter of perspective, but she raises interesting questions about the swinging pendulum leaning toward more protections and the dark side of that movement which can involve curtailment of civil rights.
Stay tuned for more on this topic.
©Barbara Cashman 2014 www.DenverElderLaw.org