Cases Physical And Financial Elder Abuse Up During Pandemic
Signs Of Elder Abuse To Look For
Protecting Senior Loved Ones
Elder abuse can take many forms. It can be in the form of physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse or neglect and abandonment. California law defines each form of abuse broadly in order to protect senior Californians from all forms of abuse. See Cal. Welf. & Inst. § 15610 et seq. (statutory definitions of forms of elder abuse). All seniors, male or female, rich or poor, living at home or in an institution, are potential victims of the carious forms of abuse. If you have a senior loved one or neighbor who is dear to you, the best way to protect them from abuse is to stay involved in their life and watch for any signs of abuse, some of which are explained below. If you suspect any of these types of abuse, report it to Adult Protective Services but also reach out to elder abuse counsel. At Evans Law Firm, Inc. we fight for seniors who are victimized by any kind of abuse. If you or a senior loved one has been the victim of any kind of elder abuse, including neglect, physical, emotional and financial elder abuse here in Contra Costa County, call us today at (415)441-8669.
Types of Abuse And What to Look For
Physical abuse is when there is injury to the older adult, including cuts, bruises, unexplained injuries, physical restraints, sexual abuse or deprivation of food and water. You may notice the older adult appearing frightened, withdrawn, confused or afraid to speak freely.
Psychological abuse may occur when the older adult is being isolated from others. The person may be prevented from speaking to family or friends, unable to view their own mail or unable to have any contact with concerned people in their families. A caregiver may also intimidate a senior with threats of retribution if the senior does not do what they are asking – like giving them money. You may notice the effects of psychological abuse in much the same way as you detect physical abuse, when a senior appears unusually quiet, frightened, withdrawn, confused or afraid to speak freely.
Sexual abuse is a real risk for institutionalized seniors especially those with dementia who may be unable to remember or communicate with others about incidents of sexual assault or rape. Increasingly, surveillance cameras in patient rooms have been the means for catching perpetrators of these heinous acts against older persons.
Financial abuse may occur when money is stolen or property is taken. Sometimes the theft is obvious – missing cash or valuables or unauthorized charges on credit cards. But financial elder abuse can also be more subtle, like in changed estate planning documents or the sale to seniors of unsuitable investments or insurance products. Sadly, these harder to detect forms of financial exploitation may not come to light until the senior has died. Financial abuse constitutes over 30% of the reported cases of abuse against older persons. Monitoring a senior’s bank accounts is one good way to detect any financial abuse or taking. Never allow a senior loved one to give a caregiver a power of attorney.
Neglect and abandonment are forms of abuse that can be perpetrated by a caregiver who is meant to be providing care but is not, causing an unsafe situation. Neglect has become a real problem in understaffed nursing homes where staff is simply unable to provide proper care for all persons under their care. Bed sores/pressure wounds are potentially fatal results of neglect. If in-person visits are still off-limits due to COVID, ask a trusted staff member in a nursing home to check on your loved one regularly and check in with out about how he or she is doing.
We must be a community that looks out for one another, and especially for our most vulnerable. If you are worried about reporting just know that it is always better to be cautious and have the situation checked out, rather than to do nothing and risk someone being hurt.
Accountability For Elder Abuse
Whenever you suspect any type of abuse of an older loved one, neighbor, or friend, report suspicions of elder abuse to the police and Adult Protective Services immediately and call qualified elder abuse counsel. Counsel can pursue all civil remedies available to senior victims under California elder abuse law, and the public authorities cannot prosecute those civil claims for you. Remedies include damages and punitive damages in some cases, and equitable remedies like restitution (getting your money back) and rescission (having invalid contracts or transactions reversed). In addition to these legal and equitable remedies, California courts also award attorneys’ fees to victimized seniors in certain cases and this can ease the burden of bringing a suit. Such claims might include claims against the agency or nursing home who employed an abusive caregiver, for example. All elder abuse claims against all accountable parties carry relatively short statutes of limitations so you need to act immediately when you think anything may be wrong.
Ingrid M. Evans and Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent seniors and their families here in Contra Costa County and throughout California against any persons or businesses responsible for the abuse. Ingrid can be reached at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.