Instances of elder abuse, both physical and financial, usually go unreported because the victims think no one will believe them or that they have no one to turn to with their evidence. If an older man is living in a nursing home and is physically abused through beatings, lack of food and water or other methods, or if he is emotionally abused by his caretakers, who can he tell?
If an elderly woman trusts her close family members with her financial information and discovers later that they have been stealing from her, who can she ask to review her statements and find discrepancies?
In these cases, older people have the option to call a hotline or hire an attorney, but if they are physically dependent on their abusers for the most basic of needs — access to a phone or leaving the house — even that may not be an option.
This is one of the reasons elder abuse is so prevalent in today’s society and so difficult to counteract. Anyone who witnesses elder abuse — or any kind of abuse, for that matter — should report it to the authorities. But in certain professions, people have a legal responsibility to report instances or evidence of elder abuse to protect older victims and put a stop to abusive behavior.
A mandated reporter is someone who is required under the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15630 to report suspected or observed instances of elder abuse of any kind, including physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. A reporter is classified as “any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not that person receives compensation.”
This classification includes “administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care…for elder or dependent adults” as well as “any…custodian, health practitioner, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or local law enforcement agency.” Other people who can be considered mandated reporters when they hear about elder abuse are members of the clergy when they receive this information about alleged abuse outside of the context of a “penitential communication.”
These people have to report abuse when they see it, hear about it or suspect it. If they do not, they are in violation of the law. Mandated reporters are required to provide their names with any abuse reports. All reports have to be made within two working days of discovery, and can be done either over the phone or by sending the written report form via mail or fax.
At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our San Mateo County elder abuse lawyers represent anyone who has been victimized by physical or financial abuse — especially those who have no one to fight for them. If you have been subject to elder abuse of any kind, and you — or a mandated reporter — want to take action, contact us for a consultation today at 415-441-8669 or online at www.evanslaw.com.