Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Constitutes Elder Abuse in California?

As a family member or loved one gets older, it can be more challenging to make decisions regarding their health and safety. Sometimes, the best option is to have the person reside in a facility and/or have their wellbeing entrusted to outside caregivers.

It is estimated that there are millions of cases of elder abuse that go unreported in the United States each year. Elder abuse is considered a serious offense and can occur to just about anyone.

However, many instances of abuse are hidden and occur at the hands of trusted people like a family member, child, or a caregiver. Elder abuse law in California is complicated, so working with an experienced elder abuse lawyer will be your best option.

What Is Elder Abuse in California?

California law says that an elder is anyone who is 65 years old or above, and abuse can include:   

Physical Abuse: Inflicting physical pain, instances of assault, or the use of restraints that are beyond a doctor’s orders

Psychological Abuse: Instances of ridicule or acts that incite fear of confusion via threats or harassment

Neglect: The failure to provide proper assistance with hygiene, or to maintain safety standards

Financial Abuse: Exploiting an elder’s assets or property, like coercing an elderly person to sign over their assets to someone who has no right to the assets

How Can I Spot Elder Abuse?

Signs of elder abuse can sometimes be difficult to spot, but there are some clues to watch out for, including:

1. Unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, or a decline in physical activity

2. Visible injuries like broken bones, or a change in physical appearance

3. Behavioral changes in regards to finances, or odd banking activity

4. A sudden change in activities relating to estate management

If you are entrusting your loved one to a nurse or caregiver, it is important to observe the relationships between them and the elderly loved one. If the elder is in a care facility, it is prudent to schedule announced and unannounced visits to keep track of what is going on, and to watch for signs of indifference towards the elder or conflicting accounts of any incidents.

How Can I Help Stop Elder Abuse?

If you suspect a case of elder abuse, it is important that you step in and take action and assess the situation in order to determine the extent of any suspected abuse.

There are a number of organizations in the state who can provide further assistance if necessary. California’s Adult Protective Services, the California Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, and an appropriate long-term care ombudsman are appropriate places to file a report.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, get them to a safe place and contact the Law Offices of Berge & Berge to determine your next steps.


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