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Terminology

Oklahoma law defines a vulnerable adult as an individual who is an incapacitated person or who, because of a physical or mental disability, including persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, incapacity, or other disability, is substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the care or custody of himself or herself, or is unable to manage his or her property and financial affairs effectively, or to meet essential requirements for mental or physical health or safety, or to protect himself or herself from abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, or exploitation without assistance from others. 

Vulnerable adults retain all the same rights and responsibilities as other adults until a court determines otherwise. Parents do not have the legal right to make decisions for their vulnerable adult children unless a court order or other legal document gives them that right. The same is true for adult children who wish to make decisions for their vulnerable parents.

A caretaker is a person who has the responsibility for the care of a vulnerable adult or the financial management of the resources of the vulnerable adult as a result of a family relationship, assumed the responsibility for the care of the vulnerable adult voluntarily by contract, or as a result of the ties of friendship, or been appointed a guardian, limited guardian, or conservator pursuant to the Oklahoma Guardianship Act.

ABUSE is causing or allowing infliction of physical pain, injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, unreasonable restraint or confinement, mental anguish or personal degradation OR deprivation of nutrition, clothing, shelter, health care or other care or services without which serious physical or mental injury is likely to occur by a caretaker or other person responsible for providing services to a vulnerable adult.

VERBAL ABUSE is the use of words, sounds, gestures, actions, behaviors or other communication by a caretaker or other person providing services to a vulnerable adult that are likely to cause a reasonable person to experience humiliation, intimidation, fear, shame or degradation.

NEGLECT is failure to provide protection, adequate shelter, nutrition, health care or clothing, or causing or permitting harm or risk of harm through the action, inaction or lack of supervision by a caretaker providing direct services.

FINANCIAL NEGLECT means repeated instances by a caretaker or other person who has assumed the role of financial management of failure to use the resources available to restore or maintain the health and physical well-being of a vulnerable adult, including but not limited to:

  1. Squandering or negligently mismanaging the money, property, or accounts of a vulnerable adult;
  2. Refusing to pay for necessities or utilities in a timely manner; or
  3. Providing substandard care to a vulnerable adult despite the availability of adequate financial resources.


SELF NEGLECT is the action or inaction of a vulnerable adult that causes the adult to fail to meet essential requirements for his or her own physical and mental health and safety due to the adult’s lack of awareness or lack of ability.

EXPLOITATION is the unjust or improperuse of the person or resources of a vulnerable adult for the profit or advantage of another person through the use of undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation or false pretense.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION is a caretaker causing, allowing, or encouraging a vulnerable adult to engage in prostitution or lewd, obscene, or pornographic photographing, filming or depiction of the vulnerable adult.

SEXUAL ABUSE 
is (A) oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of a vulnerable adult by, or through the union with, the sexual organ of a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult, or the anal or vaginal penetration of a vulnerable adult with any other object by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult;

(B) for the purpose of sexual gratification, the touching, feeling, or observation of the body or private parts of a vulnerable adult by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult; or

(C) indecent exposure by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult.

PERSONAL DEGRADATION: is a willful act by a caretaker intended to shame, degrade, humiliate, or otherwise harm the personal dignity of a vulnerable adult, or where the caretaker knew or reasonably should have known the act would cause shame, degradation, humiliation, or harm to the personal dignity of a reasonable person. Personal degradation includes the taking, transmitting, or display of an electronic image of a vulnerable adult by a caretaker, where the caretakers action constitute a willful act intended to shame, degrade, humiliate, or otherwise harm the personal dignity of the dependent adult, or where the caretaker knew or reasonably should have known the act would cause shame, degradation, humiliation, or harm to the personal dignity of a reasonable person.

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