Elder abuse can take many disturbing forms, but one of the most prevalent types in today’s society is abandonment, in which a senior citizen is simply left to his or her own devices, usually with no resources for taking care of basic life necessities. At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our San Francisco elder abuse attorneys report that abandonment is prevalent, spreading from family members refusing to help their older parents or grandparents, to nursing homes simply closing up shop, leaving dependent residents behind.
Although some senior citizens are able—and prefer—to live on their own, others need the help of a family member, or a professional, experienced caretaker with medical skills. Once someone has entered into an agreement to act as caretaker, whether for free or a salary, they become responsible for ensuring that the older person is well-cared for. If a caretaker abandons his or her charge, this is grounds for legal action, as it constitutes a form of elder abuse.
Abandonment Law in California
Abandonment is one of the listed forms of elder abuse as outlined in California’s laws. In Section 15610.05 of the Welfare & Institutions Code, abandonment is defined as “the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder or a dependent adult by anyone [who has] care or custody of that person under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody.” The crime of abandonment can be committed by an unpaid family member responsible for the senior, or a paid caretaker.
Abandonment poses a serious threat to an older person’s well-being, and can even be fatal. Without proper care or supervision, an older person—especially one with health or mental problems—runs the risks of exposure, malnutrition, and lack of medical treatments. This abuse is not always long-lasting, elder abuse attorneys in San Francisco say. Sometimes, older people are left in cars, shopping centers, parks, or even their rooms at a nursing home for extended periods of time—a few hours to a day or two—and cannot access their most basic needs, like food, water, or medicine. This qualifies as abandonment abuse under the law, and puts senior citizens in danger.
If an older person is left in an outdoor area, like a park or street corner, he or she may suffer from the exposure to extreme temperatures and the elements—hot, cold, rain, snow, etc.—all of which can result in serious health complications, no matter how long the period of exposure. An older person abandoned in a nursing home room, house, or other indoor area is no better off—he or she may be unable to access basic nutritional needs, or have no heat or air conditioning in extreme temperatures, or basic furnishings. An abandoned senior with a mental condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia may forget to take basic care of himself, without a caretaker to remind him. These seniors may also be prone to wandering (also called elopement), often getting lost because they cannot remember how to get home.
At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our San Francisco elder abuse attorneys represent older Californians who have been victims of all forms of elder abuse, including abandonment. To get in contact with an attorney, call 415.441.8669 or go online at www.evanslaw.com today.