Elder Abuse

elder abuseElders are regarded as vulnerable adults and share the same rights like all of us. It is the responsibility of anyone that provides care to them that they should give them the best service they can provide with the utmost respect and decency.

To further safeguard the rights of elders/vulnerable adults, California legislators have put into effect Elder Abuse provisions into the new Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act.  The provisions apply most especially to any caregiver or person administering care to seniors so it is important to be informed about Elder Abuse to avoid performing any kind of act that is considered a violation of these provisions.

What is Elder Abuse?

It is the mistreatment, neglect or exploitation of a person aged 65 and older or dependent adults 18-64 years of age who are physically and mentally disabled. This involves physical violence, psychological abuse, isolation, abandonment, abduction, false imprisonment or a caregiver’s neglect. It could also involve the unlawful taking of a senior’s money or property.

Reporting Elder Abuse

  • Call the police or 9-1-1 immediately if someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger.
  • Call the Adult Protective Services program in your area. Relay your concerns to the local Adult Protective Services, Long-term Care Ombudsman, or police. If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone.

You can reach the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116. Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Kinds of Elder Abuse:

Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of the types of mistreatment that are committed by someone with whom the elder has a special relationship. (for example, a spouse, sibling, child, friend or caregiver).

Institutional elder abuse generally refers to any of the types of mistreatment occurring in residential facilities (such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, board and care facility, etc) and is usually perpetrated by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care or protection.

 

Types of Abuse:

PHYSICAL ABUSE is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment.

Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts of violence as striking (with or without an object), hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.

  • Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks
  • Bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures
  • Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
  • Laboratory findings of medication overdose or under utilization of prescribed drugs
  • An elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated
  • An elder’s sudden change in behavior
  • The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone

 

SEXUAL ABUSE is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse.

Unwanted touching, all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing.

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • An elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped

 

EMOTIONAL or PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE is defined as the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts.

Refusal or failure to provide an elderly person with such life necessities as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials included in an implied or agreed-upon responsibility to an elder.

  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
  • Unattended or untreated health problems;
  • Hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water);
  • Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • An elder’s report of being mistreated.

 

NEGLECT is defined as the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has fiduciary  responsibilities to provide care for an elder (e.g., pay for necessary home care services) or the failure on the part of an in-home service provider to provide necessary care.

Refusal or failure to provide an elderly person with such life necessities as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort,    personal safety, and other essentials included in an implied or agreed-upon responsibility to an elder.

  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
  • Unattended or untreated health problems;
  • Hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water);
  • Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • An elder’s report of being mistreated.

FINANCIAL OR MATERIAL EXPLOITATION is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets.

Cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging an older person’s signature; misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions; coercing or   deceiving an older person into signing any document (e.g., contracts or will); and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney.

  • Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder.
  • Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card.
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents.
  • Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions.
  • Substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources.
  • Discovery of an elder’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions.

Abandonment is defined as the desertion of an elderly person by an individual who has assumed responsibility for providing care for an elder, or by a person with physical custody of an elder.

  • The desertion of an elder at a hospital, a nursing facility, or other similar institution
  • The desertion of an elder at a shopping center or other public location
  • An elder’s own report of being abandoned.

 

source: National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging

 


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