Merced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
It’s impossible to imagine that someone could abuse a senior citizen. Despite the vulnerability and defenselessness of elders, elder abuse continues to happen. According to the World Health Organization, around one in six people aged 60 years and older experience some form of abuse in community settings. If you believe that a loved one may be suffering from elder abuse, contact our Merced nursing home abuse attorneys immediately. Elder abuse isa complex area of the law. Experienced attorneys in your area understand the nuances of elder abuse law, including the difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
What Is Elder Abuse?
California law protects elders, dependent adults, and developmentally disabled persons from abuse and neglect. The California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15600 provides that elders—anyone 65 years of age or older—and dependent adults are legally protected from various types of neglect and physical abuse. Elder abuse may be seen in the following examples:
- Abandonment—desertion of an elder by their caregiver;
- Abduction—removal of an elder from their residence against their will;
- Financial abuse—illegal or unethical exploitation of an elder’s assets, funds, or property;
- Isolation—preventing an elder from speaking with others;
- Neglect—failure of caretakers to fulfill their duties and obligations in caring for an elder’s health or welfare; and
- Physical abuse—physically harming an elder.
Elder abuse is typically perpetrated by a caretaker. Caretakers include family members, unlicensed or licensed staff in a nursing home, and even healthcare practitioners.
Be sure to document all instances of suspected elder abuse with notes and, if possible, photographs. In some situations, you may be required to report the alleged abuse to a specific agency or department. Contact an attorney to learn what to do in these situations, including how to preserve and record evidence that supports your or your loved one’s claim.
Signs Of Nursing Home Abuse Vs. Signs Of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes are meant to be a place of safety and care for the elderly. When someone places a loved one in a nursing home, they entrust the staff to care for their physical needs as well as necessary medical care. A nursing home also provides a social environment and stimulation for its residents. However, elder abuse often occurs in these settings. You may miss some of the signs if you aren’t there every day. There are three main categories of nursing home abuse:
- Physical abuse. This occur when a nursing home employee physically harms a resident.. Unexplained injuries and strange bruising may indicate physical abuse.
- Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse occurs when a nursing home employee harasses, isolates, insults, or yells at a resident. Even without a physical element, this harmful conduct has far-reaching emotional consequences, including depression, fear, anxiety, behavior changes, and health problems.
- Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse may occur in nursing homes when the abuser wishes to take advantage of a power position or because residents are too weak and cannot otherwise fight back. Emotional changes in your loved one or physical signs such as bruising and pelvic injuries may indicate this type of abuse.
Consult with experienced Merced nursing home abuse lawyers to identify whether your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse.
Signs of nursing home neglect differ from abuse in that they may be even more difficult to detect. The Elder Abuse Act defines neglect as the failure to do one or all of the following:
- Assist in personal hygiene or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter;
- Provide medical care for physical or mental health needs;
- Protect from health and safety hazards; or
- Prevent malnutrition or dehydration.
If you suspect someone you love may be suffering from nursing home neglect, speak with an elder abuse attorney. They may be able to pick up the more subtle signs of nursing home neglect that others may easily miss.
Who Can Sue For Elder Abuse In California?
California law permits an abused or neglected elder, dependent adult, or personal representative to sue the liable party for their injuries. Multiple plaintiffs may be included in elder abuse cases. Plaintiffs in an elder abuse lawsuit may include the following parties:
- The elder or dependent adult who is suffering abuse or neglect,
- Family members of the abused or neglected adult with power of attorney,
- Family members who witnessed the abuse,
- The spouse of the abused or neglected elder, and
- Family members of the abused or neglected elder if they died as a result of the abuse or neglect.
In the unfortunate event that the abuse or neglect results in the elder’s death, the right to sue the responsible party for the victim’s damages transfers to the estate’s personal representative. Elder abuse and neglect laws are complex and require the assistance of an experienced attorney.
How To Identify Financial Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, in addition to falling prey to physical and emotional abuse and neglect, the elderly may also be targeted by those hoping to take advantage of them financially. It can be difficult to recognize financial abuse when it’s happening unless you are able to regularly monitor the financial information of your loved one. California’s Welfare and Institutions Code defines financial abuse as any of the following:
- Taking, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elderly person for wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both;
- Assisting in taking, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining the real or personal property of an elderly person for wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both; or
- Taking, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, or assisting in taking, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining the real or personal property of an elderly person through undue influence.
In California, depriving an elderly person of a property right through a donative transfer, testamentary bequest, or agreement can qualify as financial abuse. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of financial abuse, speak to an attorney immediately.