Elder abuse and neglect are major issues in many states, especially when it’s committed by people and institutions that a senior has come to trust, every county in California has an ombudsman program that investigates elderly abuse reports and works to protect the rights of elderly adults.
Sadly, these abuses and neglect are still too common.
Physical abuse can take many forms. It might include beatings, sexual assault, or the use of restraints. Family members and caretakers often commit abuse, but friends or strangers can also commit it. Regardless of who the perpetrator is, any type of abuse is unacceptable and illegal under California law.
A criminal conviction for elder abuse can result in a $6,000 fine, restitution, counseling, and informal probation. If a victim suffers great bodily injury, the penalty increases, and a defendant could face a sentence under California’s Three Strikes Law. The law considers any treatment causing an older adult to experience pain, mental anguish, or fear to be an act of elder abuse or neglect. This can be emotional, physical, or sexual, including exploitation, abandonment, and financial fraud.
Relatives and caretakers need to monitor their loved ones for signs of abuse. Look for bruises, welts, unexplained falls, or trips to the emergency room. Repeated infections or hospitalizations are additional warning signs of possible abuse. It is also a good idea to research the reputation of facilities where your loved one will be staying or getting in-home elderly care before making a final decision.
Elder abuse in California often involves unauthorized use of an older person’s assets, especially when they have in-home care or are in a nursing home. This abuse can also target those in trusting relationships. Accused individuals face misdemeanor or felony charges under PC 368. Felony convictions result in up to one year in a Los Angeles jail, restitution, and probation. If the victim sustains significant injury, the offender might face three to four years in prison under California’s Three Strikes Law.
Elder abuse in California isn’t just physical; financial abuse is equally common and legally punishable. The California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act states that anyone, including family members or caregivers, can face charges for elder financial abuse if they steal or mishandle the finances of an elderly person.
Elder financial abuse includes theft, undue influence, and forgery. Often, relatives or caregivers manipulate elderly individuals into relinquishing control over their assets. Tragically, this form of abuse is underreported due to its often familial or trusted-caretaker nature.
Elderly neglect can also result in a variety of serious injuries. Physical neglect includes ignoring the basic needs of an older adult, such as food, water, shelter, medication, and comfort. Emotional or psychological abuse is another form of neglect and can include yelling, threatening, or isolating the senior. Elderly neglect can also include abandonment, which is the desertion of a dependent older adult.
A third form of elder abuse is self-neglect. This is the failure of an elderly person to provide for their own needs. This can be the result of a lack of food, poor hygiene, or an unclean living environment. In addition, self-neglect can include refusing or failing to seek medical care.
It is important to understand that many forms of elder abuse are not as obvious as others. As a result, those who care about elderly loved ones must learn to recognize the signs of elder abuse and neglect and take proper action. If you suspect a loved one is suffering from either of these conditions, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Local civil legal services programs should be able to help for free or at a minimal cost. Additionally, an attorney can guide you through the civil and criminal process of filing a claim if necessary.
Emotional abuse can be just as damaging to elderly people as physical and financial abuse. This type of abuse involves psychological torture and can cause long-term emotional problems like anxiety and depression. It can also lead to serious health issues like bedsores and maggot infestations. Family members who become overwhelmed or resentful of the responsibility of caring for their older loved ones can cause emotional elder abuse. Caregivers who lack respect for the elderly person and attempt to humiliate or degrade them can also commit emotional elder abuse.
California has specific laws enabling legal action against those who abuse dependent adults in their care, imposing civil and criminal liability. “Abuse” under the law entails any treatment causing unjustifiable pain to an elder or dependent adult. To be found guilty of elder abuse, the following conditions must be met:
Family members and caregivers must promptly report elder abuse signs to authorities. An exhaustive investigation follows, offering immediate aid like emergency shelter. Longer-term remedies include facility transfers or home relocation. Some types of elder abuse are easier to identify than others, but all these forms must be reported. It is also a good idea for any person looking into placing their elderly parent or relative into a care facility to research the institution’s track record for dealing with complaints before making their final decision.
Elderly abuse can be a terrifying experience for anyone who is subjected to it. However, everyone must recognize the different types of elder abuse so they can act quickly to report it when they suspect it is occurring. Those who are convicted of abusing an elderly person in California can face severe criminal penalties.
With the aging of America’s population, issues affecting the elderly have become increasingly prominent in public discourse. Elder abuse and neglect, particularly when committed by those entrusted with their care, is one such issue. Due to this, the State of California has passed various statutes that subject those who exploit or harm elderly dependent adults to unique criminal and civil liability.
Neglect, a form of elder abuse, happens when a person or institution fails to provide necessities like food, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the elderly. Signs include weight loss, disorientation, poor living conditions, and health issues. Financial exploitation, another common abuse, occurs via signature forgery, deceptive document signing, or fraudulent checks. Warning signs involve sudden withdrawals, altered wills, or property loss.
Emotional abuse, hardest to spot, inflicts mental distress. It involves actions like yelling or humiliating, causing pain to elderly with communication challenges. Sexual abuse of the elderly can include any sexual content that occurs without the consent of a mentally competent and physically healthy adult. This can be quite traumatizing for an elderly person, especially if it is done repeatedly.
Abuse and neglect of the elderly are very serious matters, and it is not always easy to know what to do if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in their long-term care facility. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you understand your options moving forward. Contact Silva Injury Law Inc to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout the San Diego area. We also assist families with legal matters involving the wrongful death of a loved one.