Recognizing the signs of potential elder abuse is only the first step. Before holding the responsible parties accountable, you must prove they committed abuse. California has passed multiple laws to protect older adults from elder abuse. Parties guilty of elder abuse could face civil repercussions and criminal charges. If you suspect a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, it’s crucial to act quickly. If you have questions about how to prove elder abuse in California, contact an elder abuse lawyer at Silva Injury Law today.
Elder abuse is not limited to nursing homes. Neglect and abuse can occur in a domestic, medical, or long-term care facility. You must remain vigilant for any signs of abuse, whether your loved one has in-home caretakers or resides in a nursing home. If you suspect neglect or abuse, you must report elder abuse to protect your family members and prevent other families from enduring similar abuse or neglect.
Types of Elder Abuse and Potential Warning Signs
Before pursuing an elder abuse claim, you need to understand the types of elder abuse. There are four main types of abuse you should be watching out for with your family members. The main categories of elder abuse are physical, psychological, sexual, and financial.
Physical abuse involves an intentional use of force, such as kicking, hitting, physically restraining, punching, or shoving an older adult. Potential signs of physical abuse include:
- Scrapes or cuts,
- Unexplained injuries,
- Dislocated joints,
- Broken or fractured bones, and
Watch for repeated hospitalizations or treatments for similar or identical injuries. Did the facility or healthcare provider get proper medical treatment for an injury? Pay attention to whether your loved one went to different emergency rooms for their injuries.
Psychological abuse is meant to inflict fear, mental pain, or distress. It may involve threats, yelling, demeaning words, intimidation, isolation, and more. Watch for changes in your family member, such as:
- Sudden mood swings,
- Depression or withdrawal,
- Fear, and
- Sudden personality changes.
Emotional abuse often occurs with other types of abuse and neglect.
When someone forces an older adult to have any non-consensual sexual contact, it’s sexual abuse. Someone who has a cognitive disability cannot give consent either. Warning signs of sexual abuse include:
- Genital or anal bleeding,
- New STDs or infections,
- Pain complaints in the genitals or anus,
- Bruises on inner thighs or genitals,
- Difficulty sitting or walking, and
- Pelvic injuries.
Sexual abusers can be caretakers, staff, other residents, visitors, friends, or family members. No one wants to imagine their loved one being attacked, but the risk is real.
Elder abuse statistics show that the number one category of abuse in the United States is financial fraud and exploitation, closely followed by caregiver neglect. Financial abuse involves the unauthorized and illegal use of an older adult’s financial resources. Look for warning signs such as:
- Missing property or other belongings,
- Changes to legal documents such as a power of attorney or will,
- Bank statements or canceled checks mailed to someone else,
- Unpaid bills or eviction notice,
- Withdrawals not made by the elder, and
- Changes to financial documents or accounts.
Financial abuse often occurs when an older person has in-home care, but it can happen anywhere. Even family members or friends can commit financial elder abuse.
Contact Our Lawyers at Silva Injury Law
Proving elder abuse is challenging, but it’s not impossible. However, you need to act immediately. Don’t wait too long to speak with an elder abuse lawyer when you feel something is wrong. You need a skilled legal advocate on your side to help prove elder abuse in California. Attorney Michael Joe Silva previously worked as a prosecutor in Merced County, so he understands the importance of building a solid case to meet the burden of proof in a civil lawsuit. Without the necessary evidence, other families could become future victims.
If you suspect a loved one is the victim of elder abuse, please get in touch with Silva Injury Law today. We can investigate to uncover proof of the alleged abuse or neglect, which could help keep other elders safe. Please schedule an appointment today so we can answer any questions you may have about how to prove elder abuse in California.
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At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.