Delaware Code Title 31. Welfare § 3902. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) “Abuse” means:

a. Physical abuse by unnecessarily inflicting pain or injury on an adult who is impaired;  or

b. A pattern of emotional abuse, which includes, but is not limited to, ridiculing or demeaning an adult who is impaired making derogatory remarks to an adult who is impaired or cursing or threatening to inflict physical or emotional harm on an adult who is impaired.

(2) “Adult who is impaired” shall mean any person 18 years of age or over who, because of physical or mental disability, is substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the person's own care and custody.

(3) “Alleged victim” shall mean any adult who is impaired, incapacitated, elderly or vulnerable that may have been abused, neglected or exploited based on a report to Adult Protective Services.

(4) “Caregiver” means any adult who has assumed the permanent or temporary care, custody or responsibility for the supervision of an adult who is impaired.

(5) “Court” means the Court of Chancery of the State.

(6) “Department” means the Department of Health and Social Services of the State.

(7) “Elderly person” has the same meaning as defined in § 222 of Title 11 .

(8) “Emergency” means that a person is living in conditions which present a substantial risk of serious harm and includes, but is not limited to, problems which cannot be managed by a person who is impaired, such as insufficient food supply, inadequate shelter, threatened or actual abuse or utility shut-off.  Emergency does not mean psychiatric emergency as provided for in Chapter 50 of Title 16.

(9) “Emergency services” are protective services furnished to a person in an emergency.

(10) “Essential services” shall refer to those physical, medical, social, psychiatric or legal services necessary to safeguard the person, rights and resources of the person who is impaired and to maintain the person's physical and mental well-being.  These services shall include, but not be limited to, adequate food and clothing, heated and sanitary shelter, medical care for physical and mental health needs, assistance in personal hygiene, protection from health and safety hazards, protection from physical or mental injury or exploitation.

(11) “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 for the benefit of another.

(12) “Financial exploitation” means the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person's or entity's profit or advantage other than for the elder person or the vulnerable adult's profit or advantage.  “Financial exploitation” includes, but is not limited to:

a. The use of deception, intimidation, or undue influence by a person or entity in a position of trust and confidence with an elderly person or a vulnerable adult to obtain or use the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult;

b. The 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 elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult;  and

c. Obtaining or using an elderly person or 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 elderly person or the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to the release or use of his or her property, income, resources, or trust funds.

(13) “Financial institution” means any of the following:

a. A “depository institution,” as defined in § 3(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act ( 12 U.S.C. § 1813(c) ).

b. A “federal credit union” or “state credit union,” as defined in § 101 of the Federal Credit Union Act ( 12 U.S.C. § 1752 ), including, but not limited to, an institution-affiliated party of a credit union, as defined in § 206(r) of the Federal Credit Union Act ( 12 U.S.C. § 1786(r) ).

c. An “institution-affiliated party,” as defined in § 3(u) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act ( 12 U.S.C. § 1813(u) ).

(14) “Hazardous living condition” means a mode of life which contains a substantial risk of physical injury, or mental distress, or exploitation.

(15) “Independent living arrangement” means a mode of life pursued by a person capable of providing for the person's own care or who, while impaired, nevertheless is able to live outside an institution with assistance in obtaining essential services.

(16) “Interested person” means any adult relative or friend of a person who is impaired;  an official or representative of the protective services agency or of any public or nonpublic private agency;  or any corporation, board, organization or person designated by the Court to act in the interest of the person who is impaired.

(17) “Mistreatment” means the failure to provide appropriate physical or emotional care to an adult who is impaired, including the inappropriate use of medications, isolation or physical or chemical restraints on or of an adult who is impaired.

(18) “Neglect” means:

a. Lack of attention by a caregiver to physical needs of an adult who is impaired including but not limited to toileting, bathing, meals and safety;

b. Failure by a caregiver to carry out a treatment plan prescribed by a health care professional for an adult who is impaired;  or

c. Intentional and permanent abandonment or desertion in any place of an adult who is impaired by a caregiver who does not make reasonable efforts to ensure that essential services, as defined in this section, will be provided for said adult who is impaired.

(19) “Person who is incapacitated” means a person for whom a guardian of person or property, or both, shall be appointed, under § 3901 of Title 12 .

(20) “Physical or mental disability” shall include any physical or mental disability and shall include, but not be limited to, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain damage, physical degeneration, deterioration, senility, disease, habitual drunkenness or addiction to drugs, and mental or physical impairment.

(21) “Protective placement” means the transfer of a person out of an independent living arrangement.

(22) “Public Guardian” means the Office of the Public Guardian.

(23) “Substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the person's own care and custody” means the person who is impaired is unable to perform or obtain for himself or herself essential services.

(24) “Vulnerable adult” means an adult who meets the criteria set forth in § 1105(c) of Title 11 .


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