Abuse That Derives From Elder Neglect
Elder neglect, or the failure to provide adequate care to an older person, is one of the most insidious forms of elder abuse. More than half of all reported cases of elder abuse derive from elder neglect. This type of neglect includes failing to report or stop active abuse and failing to provide appropriate care for an older adult.
What makes elder neglect one of the leading causes of elder abuse is that it is not direct and observable. Neglect implies a failure to take action, which means it often goes unnoticed until severe personal injury or death occurs. It is important to know the types of abuse that derive from elder neglect and how to spot them and the penalties for elder neglect, and how to report elder neglect in California.
What is Elder Neglect and Abuse?
Elder neglect and abuse is a widespread problem in nursing homes, care facilities, and at-home care of elders. Neglect and abuse go hand-in-hand. Although some forms of abuse are direct and do not derive from neglect, many of the most disturbing forms of elder abuse derive from the intentional failure to provide care to an elderly person. Neglect and abuse show a disregard for an elderly person’s wellbeing and have terrible consequences for the victim and their family.
Types of Elder Abuse
- Emotional Abuse refers to psychological and emotional tactics used to cause pain, distress, and suffering in an elderly person. Emotional abuse can be direct and includes verbal abuse or withholding care or manifest with passive-aggressive behavior such as making them wait for food or medication, isolating them, or leaving them alone and scared.
- Physical Abuse refers to physical force used against an elderly person, resulting in personal injury, physical pain, or a bodily impairment. It includes punching, hitting, assaulting with an object, kicking, burning, unnecessary roughness, and restricting movement either through restraint or medication.
- Sexual Abuse refers to any sexual contact with an elderly person without their consent. Many older people cannot give consent due to physical and mental conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sexual abuse includes groping, touching, rape, and sodomy.
- Financial Abuse refers to the act of misusing the elderly person’s financial assets without their permission. This includes using their credit cards or checks, committing fraud or identity theft against them, or changing the name on property assets.
Types of Elder Neglect
- Failure to provide food and water
- Failure to provide personal hygiene care
- Failure to provide medication
- Failure to provide shelter or clothing
- Elderly Self-Neglect
Many forms of elder neglect fall into the elder abuse categories above. Failure to provide food and water is both a physical and emotional form of abuse, as is failure to provide appropriate hygienic care, medication, and shelter or clothing. Abandonment of an elderly person is also a form of neglect where a caregiver leaves an elderly person who cannot care for themselves alone and results in the elderly person being confused, disoriented, and in unsafe conditions.
Elder self-neglect arises when an elderly person neglects themselves. It often manifests as an older person refusing care for themselves. They may not eat or eat unsafe food, refuse to take medication, not shower or bathe, or refuse to provide adequate shelter for themselves. Self-neglect leads to a decline in the elderly person’s wellbeing and leads to weight loss, infection, and other serious problems.
What is Passive Neglect?
Although many cases of elder neglect are active and indicate a willful failure to provide adequate care, there are also instances of passive elder neglect. Passive neglect can be just as harmful as active neglect, however with passive neglect; there is no active malicious intent on the part of the negligent caregiver.
In some cases, the caregiver fails to meet the patient’s needs due to improper training, work or patient overload, lack of awareness of the persons’ needs, or lack of the capacity to care for the elderly person. This happens in care centers and with members of the elderly person’s family who are ill-equipped to handle their needs or are unaware of how much care the person needs.
Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
It is important to be aware of the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation to recognize it when it occurs and report it immediately. The following are signs of different types of elder abuse and neglect, as well as exploitation.
Signs of Physical or Sexual Abuse
- Bruises, burns, cuts, wounds, sores
- Broken bones
- Loss of teeth
- Dislocated joints
- Self-treated or untreated injuries
- Sudden hair loss
- Bruising or bleeding near genitals
Signs of Emotional Abuse
- Witnessing threatening, abusive, or controlling behavior from a caregiver
- The elderly person is withdrawn, silent, or seems frightened of their caregiver
- Talking, rocking, or mumbling to themselves
- Change in normal behaviors or personality
Signs of Neglect
- Weight loss, lack of food
- Untreated injuries and infections
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Lack of proper clothing
- Unsafe living conditions
Signs of Financial Exploitation
- Large withdrawals
- Valuables or cash missing
- Sudden change in the financial situation of the elderly person
- New names added to cards or wills, bank accounts, or other legal documents
- Services, subscriptions, or other new purchase that seem suspicious
What is the Penalty for Elder Abuse in California?
If your relatives have experienced abuse, you might want to know, what is the penalty for elder abuse in California? Elder neglect in California carries severe punishments, and substantial elder neglect laws in California exist to protect the elderly. Specifically, Penal Code Section 368, or PC 368, states that it is illegal to deny an elderly or dependent person their rights and applies to both those who directly harm the person as well as those who do not prevent harm from taking place.
Under PC 368, someone who commits elder abuse may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Depending on the type of elder abuse committed, the misdemeanor conviction carries a fine not exceeding $6,000 and/or restitution and up to one year in county jail, whereas a felony conviction carries a fine not exceeding $10,000 and/or restitution and up to four years in state prison.
If a victim over 70 suffers bodily harm, the prison sentence is a maximum of five years, and in the case of death, the defendant could receive a maximum of seven years in prison. California Civil Code 3345 may provide treble damages for an elderly victim. This means a victim may receive three times the amount of awarded damages.
It is vital to remember that reporting elder abuse is important. The victim of the abuse is often too scared or unable to do so, and as a neighbor, friend, or family member, it is your duty to keep the elderly safe from abuse and neglect. If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, but are wondering how to report elder neglect, call the California Adult Protective Services department.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If your loved one has suffered due to elder neglect or abuse, you may choose to seek legal counsel to seek compensation and justice for your family member. Your best option is to seek a qualified elder neglect attorney immediately who can guide you through the legal process.
You only have two years from the date of the physical abuse or neglect to file a claim in civil court and four years to file a civil claim of financial abuse. An experienced lawyer specializing in elder abuse cases can help you decide on the best course of action and whether the negligent party can be held criminally liable.
Call Berberian Ain LLP Today
If your elderly loved one has suffered abuse, neglect, or death due to the negligence or malicious actions of a caregiver or caregiving facility, don’t be afraid to seek legal action. At Berberian Ain LLP, our team of experienced lawyers will fight for the rights of your loved one and your family.
Call (818) 808-0048 for a confidential, free consultation. We will review your case and advise you on the best legal course of action to take. You can also reach us on our website through our contact form to set up a complimentary consultation.