Caregiver Neglect Laws
Financial Exploitation Laws
Physical Abuse Laws
Sexual Abuse/Assault Laws
As used in this article, the term:
(1) “Alzheimer’s disease” means a progressive, degenerative disease or condition that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior.
(2) “Dementia” means:
(A) 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
(B) The comatose state of an adult resulting from any head injury.
(3) “Disabled adult” means a person 18 years of age or older who is mentally or physically incapacitated or has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
(4) “Elder person” means a person 65 years of age or older.
(5) “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.
(6) “Exploit” means illegally or improperly using a disabled adult or elder person or that person’s resources through undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation, false pretense, or other similar means for one’s own or another person’s profit or advantage, including, but not limited to, the illegal taking of resources belonging to a disabled adult or elder person when access to the resources was obtained due to the disabled adult’s or elder person’s mental or physical incapacity.
(7) “Long-term care facility” means any skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, assisted living community, community living arrangement, or personal care home subject to regulation and licensure by the Department of Community Health.
(7.1) “Mentally or physically incapacitated” means an impairment which substantially affects an individual’s ability to:
(A) Provide personal protection;
(B) Provide necessities, including but not limited to food, shelter, clothing, medical, or other health care;
(C) Carry out the activities of daily living; or
(D) Manage his or her resources.
(8) “Resident” means any person who is receiving treatment or care in any long-term care facility.
(9) “Sexual abuse” means the coercion for the purpose of self-gratification by a guardian or other person supervising the welfare or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident to engage in any of the following conduct:
(A) Lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
(B) Flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is unclothed or partially unclothed;
(C) Condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of a person who is unclothed or partially clothed unless physical restraint is medically indicated;
(D) Physical contact in an act of sexual stimulation or gratification with any person’s unclothed genitals, pubic area, or buttocks or with a female’s nude breasts;
(E) Defecation or urination for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer; or
(F) Penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object except when done as part of a recognized medical or nursing procedure.
Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident
(a) A guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized.
(b) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to a physician nor any person acting under a physician’s direction nor to a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility, nor any agent or employee thereof who is in good faith acting within the scope of his or her employment or agency or who is acting in good faith in accordance with a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, an advance directive for health care, a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form pursuant to Code Section 31-1-14, an order not to resuscitate, or the instructions of the patient or the patient’s lawful surrogate decision maker, nor shall the provisions of this Code section require any physician, any institution licensed in accordance with Chapter 7 of Title 31, or any employee or agent thereof to provide essential services or shelter to any person in the absence of another legal obligation to do so.
(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to a guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident who in good faith provides treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer for the person’s physical or mental condition, in lieu of medical treatment, in accordance with the practices of and written notarized consent of the person.
(d) A person who commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of a long-term care facility, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $50,000.00, or both.
Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults, Elder Persons, and Residents; Obstruction of Investigation
(a) Any person who knowingly and willfully exploits a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, willfully inflicts physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement upon a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elder person, or resident shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $50,000.00, or both.
(b) Any person who threatens, intimidates, or attempts to intimidate a disabled adult, elder person, or resident who is the subject of a report made pursuant to Chapter 5 of Title 30 or Article 4 of Chapter 8 of Title 31, or any other person cooperating with an investigation conducted pursuant to this Code section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
(c) Any person who willfully and knowingly obstructs or in any way impedes an investigation conducted pursuant to Chapter 5 of Title 30 or Article 4 of Chapter 8 of Title 31, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
State Mandated Reporting
Who has to report?
Any person required to report child abuse; physical therapists; occupational therapists, daycare personnel, coroners, medical examiners, emergency medical services personnel, certified emergency medical technician, cardiac technician, paramedic, or first responder, employees of a public or private agency engaged in professional health related services to elder persons or disabled adults; and clergy members, member of the staff of a hospital, social agency; any employee of a financial institution (not including any employee of a financial institution while that employee is acting as a fiduciary for assets that the employee is holding or managing in a fiduciary capacity.
When to report?
Any person required to report having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult or elder person has been the victim of abuse, other than by accidental means, or has been neglected or exploited has actual knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that an elderly adult with a disability is suffering from or has died as a result of abuse as defined in § 2951.
How to report?
Reports, either oral or written, shall be made in the following ways:
If a report of a disabled adult or elder person abuse is made to an adult protection agency or independently discovered by the agency and the agency has reasonable cause to believe such report is true, then the agency shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney.
All reports prepared by a law enforcement agency shall be forwarded to the director of Division of Aging Services of the Department of Human Services within 24 hours.
Georgia Adult Protective Services: 800-774-0152