Increasing Reports Of Financial and Physical Elder Abuse and Neglect
What You Should Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
Throughout the United States and here in Alameda County, elder abuse in every form, and most especially financial elder abuse, is on the rise. As the older population increases, reported incidents of elder abuse do too. Alameda County Adult Protective Services received approximately 6000 reports of elder abuse and neglect just last year. Elder abuse can strike any senior, whether living at home or in a nursing home or other assisted care facility. While elder abuse can remain below our radar as far as our older loved ones are concerned, there are some definite warning signs: bruises or bed sores, infections, overmedication, weight loss and noticeable personality changes are signs of physical abuse or neglect; money problems and unpaid bills are signs of financial elder abuse. Those responsible for the abuse should be held to account. The elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm represent seniors in Alameda County and elsewhere in California harmed by abuse or neglect and litigate against those responsible. If you or someone you know is suffering from any form of elder abuse in Alameda County or elsewhere in California, call our elder abuse attorneys today at 415-441-8669, and we can help.
Isolated seniors are especially vulnerable to abuse, both physical and financial. Seniors dependent on in-home caregivers may suffer abuse from the very persons hired to provide their care. Any time a stranger enters a senior’s life as a caregiver the risks of elder abuse spike. Always perform a background check on any individual or agency you hire. When using an agency, do not depend on the agency vetting the assigned caregivers but search their names and backgrounds yourself. Once a caregiver is in the home, drop by unexpectedly when you can and speak with the senior alone to find out how everything is going. Don’t let the caregiver lurk around while you’re visiting; it’s a bad sign when a caregiver doesn’t want the senior to be alone with loved ones.
When you visit your senior loved one or friend, watch for signs of possible physical abuse or neglect:
- Bedsores/pressure ulcers or other poor skin conditions;
- Bruises and scratch marks;
- Poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness;
- Frequent infections;
- Injuries from wandering off unsupervised (known as elopement);
- Indication of sexual assault, rape, or battery;
- Lack of equipment and supplies;
- Rapid weight loss;
- Abnormal or withdrawn behavior and unusual silence;
- Prolonged sleep or drowsiness;
- Agitation especially when certain caregivers are present or caregivers who do not want the patient to be alone with others;
- Reluctance to speak when staff is nearby;
- Unsanitary and unclean conditions, soiled bed linens and clothes;
- Fear of being touched.
Also know a few signs of financial elder abuse:
- Unexpected changes in wills, trusts or powers of attorney.
- Sale to the senior of an inappropriate annuity or life insurance policy.
- Changes in spending habits and cash withdrawals or different types of spending than the senior normally incurs.
- Sudden or unexplained check cashing, transfers of money or ATM withdrawals or credit card activity.
- Opening of a new bank or brokerage account (or multiple accounts) or changing banks and brokerage firms.
- Unpaid bills.
- Unusual increase in investment activity or change in investment style.
- A senior who is overly reluctant to discuss financial matters perhaps out of fear from retaliation from a caregiver or other abuser.
- Allowing a new friend or trusted acquaintance to make decisions on the elderly person’s behalf
- Someone screening the elder’s phone calls or going through their mail
To help prevent financial elder abuse, keep credit cards, cash, valuables and important papers like a Will or Power of Attorney in a secure place, off limits to caregivers and other strangers. Never grant a Power of Attorney to a caregiver or show them a trust, Will or other financial papers; that’s none of their business. Make an inventory of property in the home. Review bank statements, important records, and the mail. Report suspicions to the police and Adult Protective Services immediately and call qualified elder abuse counsel. Every city and county in California has an elder abuse unit in the local Adult Protective Services department. Call them with suspicions and call elder abuse counsel. While official reporting is important, you should pursue all civil remedies available to senior victims under California elder abuse law. Our lawyers handle elder abuse cases of all varieties and know the remedies, extra damages, and awards of attorneys’ fees and costs to which you or your victimized loved one is entitled.
If you or a loved one is or has been the victim of elder abuse in Alameda County or elsewhere in California, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other Alameda County elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.