With the growing number of aging Americans, more people are at risk of elder abuse than ever. Elder abuse is the neglect, exploitation of painful or harmful mistreatment of any individual who is 65 years of age or older. Elder abuse may involve physical violence and abuse, but it also includes psychological abuse, isolation, financial abuse, abandonment or neglect. Other crimes may also be committed against an individual who is 65 or older, such as identity theft or assault. Insuch a case, the offender may face harsher statutory penalties since the crime was committed against an elder.
Under California law, elder abuse can be both a criminal action as well as acivil matter. Criminal elder abuse occurs when any person causes an elder to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering. It also includes when a person willfully causes or permits an elder to be placed in asituation where the elder’s health is endangered.
Civil law defines elderabuse to mean neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, physical abuse, or any other treatment that results in physical harm or pain or mental suffering to the elder. The deprivation by a carecustodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mentalsuffering also fall in this category.
Some examples of elder abuse are listed below:
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, the infliction of physical injury or pain, sexual assault, or use of physical restraints for punishment.
- Neglect: Neglect arises when an individual who has a caretaking obligation fails to fulfill their duties, such as assisting in personal hygiene, providing food, clothing or shelter.
- Financial Abuse: The illegal or unethical use or exploitation of an elder’s funds, property or other assets constitute financial abuse.
- Isolation: Preventing an elder from receiving mail, telephone calls or visitors.
- Mental Abuse: Inflicting fear, confusion or agitation through the use of threats, harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior against the elder.
How can you recognize when elder abuse is occurring? The following are some clues for recognizing signs of elder abuse. This list is not exhaustive:
- Unexplained weight loss, physical injury, bruises, skin damage, scratches, unexplained injuries, cuts, burns, welts, sprains, or fractures.
- The elder may also have a change in behavior such as anger, agitation, non-responsiveness, fear, defensiveness, anxiety, confusion or depression.
- Certain individuals with a relationship with an elder have agreater opportunity to commit abuse. Caretakers, neighbors and family may isolate the elder and commit abuse.
If you suspect elder abuse, report it! Any concerned citizen may report elder abuse and mandated reporters must report elder abuse. If you need assistance in identifying whether abuse is occurring or need more information on how to report abuse, please call us at 310-481-0300. Davies Wegner Law is experienced and compassionate in handling elder abuse cases. We are passionate about protecting the health, safety and welfare of our valued seniors.