Elderly Abuse – Causes and Characteristics
What do you mean by elderly abuse? What constitutes elderly abuse?
Any form of physical or emotional or sexual harm inflicted upon an elderly person constitutes elderly abuse. Financial exploitation or neglect of their welfare by people responsible for their care is also considered as elderly abuse or neglect. USA reports over half a million cases of elderly abuse each year, and the truth is that millions of cases are unreported.
With age, people become frail and weak and may not be able to take care of themselves or manage their day to day affairs. They are not in a position to fight back if attacked or take a stand if bullied. Their growing physical and mental ailments can make living with them difficult for the family members or their partners. Their failing health and slow loss of the sensory organs like hearing issues or weak eyesight can make them victims of fraud by deceitful people.
It has been noticed that elderly abuse occurs where seniors live with their families. They are abused by their adult children or grandchildren or their partner. Instances of elderly abuse have also been seen in institutions like long-term elder care facilities.
If you believe that an aged person is being emotionally or physically neglected or harmed by a caregiver, or is being financially cheated, it’s important you bring it to the notice of the local authorities. Everyone has a right to live with dignity and respect. A professional elder abuse lawyer can handle their case and help them get justice for the harm and neglect they have faced.
Who is most likely to abuse the elderly?
Individual responsible for elderly abuse, are both women and men. It has been seen that in around 60% of elderly abuse and neglect cases, the person behind the abuse is a family member. Around 66% of the culprits are adult children or spouses/partners. In cases where elderly are under care at institutions too there have been a number of cases reported against elderly abuse. The caregivers are the ones who are abusing or neglecting the elderly people.
What are the 6 types of elderly abuse?
Elderly abuse comes in a number of forms; some involves intimidating the elders while some involve neglecting them and others involve duping them or financial trickery. The most common 6 types of elderly abuse are:
Physical abuse – When any kind of force is used against an elderly person resulting in physical hurt or pain or impairment it results in physical abuse of the elderly person. Physical abuse not only includes physical assaults like hitting or pushing but also administration of inappropriate drugs or forceful confinement.
Emotional abuse – Any form of behavior towards an elder person which causes them emotional or psychological distress is considered as emotional abuse.
- Intimidating them by shouting at them
- Threatening them
- Humiliating them
- Habitual blaming or making them the scapegoat
- Ignoring them
- Isolating them or restricting them from activities or meeting other people elderly person
Sexual abuse – Sexual contact with an elderly person without their consent accounts for sexual abuse in the elderly. Showing an elderly person pornographic material or forcing them to watch sexual acts or forcing them to undress, are all forms of sexual abuse.
Elder neglect – Failing to complete a caretaking responsibility results in elder neglect. More than half of the reported cases of elderly abuse in USA account for elder neglect. Neglect maybe intentional or unintentional, depending on the factors like failing to understand that the elderly person requires more care than which is being provided.
Financial exploitation – The illegal or unpermitted use of the funds or property owned by an elderly person results in financial exploitation of the elderly. A dishonest caregiver or a scam artist may:
- Misuse the elder persons credit cards or accounts
- Steal cash or items from their house or property
- Forging their signature to usurp their money or property
- Engage in identity theft
Fraud and abuse by healthcare officials – When unethical doctors, nurse or people involved in providing professional care cheat or abuse elderly people, it accounts for elderly abuse. Instances like:
- Charging for services and healthcare which are not provided.
- Overcharging for care or services provided
- Referring to other care providers or prescribing medicines in return for kickbacks.
- Overmedicating or under medicating
- Suggesting fake remedies for curing certain medical conditions
- Medicaid fraud
What are the warning signs of elderly abuse?
The most common warning signs of elderly abuse are sudden changes in an elderly person’s psychological, physical, or financial well-being. There are different signs of elderly abuse in different cases, depending on the type of abuse being inflicted upon them.
Some of the common signs and symptoms are:
- Injuries on the body like bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Malnourished body or sudden loss of weight
- Unhygienic living conditions or poor personal hygiene
- Episodes of nervousness, gloominess, or bewilderment
- Mysterious bank or money transactions or sudden loss of money
- Disconnection from family members or friends
What is the law related to Elderly abuse? Can you sue for elderly abuse?
As per the California law, elderly abuse can be both criminal and civil. Abuse is treated as Criminal elderly abuse when a person knowingly and willfully causes hurt or emotional stress and lets the victim who is an elder to suffer.
As per the Penal Code 368 PC, it is a crime for a person to abuse anyone who is of 65 years of age or older. The abuser can be charged with this section as misbehavior or a crime, and can be sentenced up to 4 years of jail or prison.
A victim of elderly abuse can file a lawsuit against the abuser as per the California Welfare and Institutions Code 15600.
Who Can Be Charged with Elderly Abuse?
Any person who is suspected of violating the elder abuse laws in California can be charged with elderly abuse. Some of the instances under which a person can be charged are:
- Doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners or helpers suspected of hurting an aged person either physically or emotionally or sexually.
- Family members or caretakers who are diverting the Social Security checks away from the elderly person or causing them any kind of financial harm by using their bank accounts or money or property without their consent.
- The spouse/partner or an adult child purposely causing physical pain or injuring the elderly person.
- Instances of withholding medication.
Penalties and Punishments for Elderly Abuse cases in California
The penalties given for elderly abuse in California are very harsh and stringent. Elderly abuse penalties and punishment include up to one year in county jail along with a fine of up to $6,000.
Get in touch with Elder Abuse Lawyers at Khashan Law today
The Elderly abuse laws in California are very complex. It is not easy for an elderly person to handle their case against an abuser. Consulting an experienced elder abuse lawyer who has experience in handling such cases can be very useful.
Our skilled and specialized elder abuse lawyers have over 25-years of experience handling such cases, we aim to protect our seniors and dependent adults from neglect and abuse. Remember, all our legal fees are based on a percentage of the final settlement you receive, and you pay nothing for our services until we win your case. We are conveniently located in the prime areas of Southern California.