If your family member or friend needs to move into a nursing home, do not assume the facility will always treat your loved ones as well as you would. It may be necessary to take some initiative to ensure they do not become a victim of elder abuse. Understandably, you might be wondering, What to do if you suspect elder abuse in California? When you believe a nursing home facility or caretaker is guilty of abuse or neglect, contact a California elder abuse lawyer at Silva Injury Law immediately.
People are living longer, so the number of older adults needing long-term care or a nursing home will likely increase. In fact, the California Department of Finance projected the number of California residents 65 and over who need long-term or nursing home care will almost double between 2010 and 2030.
Unfortunately, elder abuse increases as more people move into these facilities, and instances of abuse stay underreported. It’s crucial to report elder abuse to protect your loved ones and other families from experiencing the same harm.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Caretakers are often the abusers; however, they can also be nursing home staff, family members, or other medical professionals. California has multiple laws addressing elder abuse, with possible criminal consequences for anyone who violates them. Elder abuse is any act of abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, or even financial. Categories of elder abuse in California include:
- Physical abuse—Physical abuse can be any aggressive physical actions, such as shoving, kicking, improper restraints, slapping, punching, and more. Medication errors often fall under neglect, but they can rise to the level of abuse in some situations.
- Emotional abuse—Psychological abuse includes intimidation, isolation, threats, insults, demeaning talk, victim-blaming, and more.
- Sexual abuse—Any unwanted or non-consensual sexual touching is sexual abuse.
- Financial abuse—Taking funds or embezzling from someone over 65 without express consent is financial abuse under the law.
According to the Justice Department, financial fraud and exploitation are the country’s most common elder abuse, followed by caregiver neglect and psychological abuse.
How to Recognize Elder Abuse
You might be wondering how to spot signs of elder abuse so you know what to report. Some common signs of elder abuse could be:
- Unexplained injuries;
- Dehydration or malnourishment;
- Bruises on the wrists indicating tight restraints;
- Sudden mood changes;
- Withdrawal from regular activities or hobbies;
- Fear, anxiety, or anger;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Lack of hygiene, dirty room, or soiled clothing; and
- Conflicting reports.
These signs do not definitively prove elder abuse, but they can be red flags. When visiting your loved ones, you should keep a journal of their condition and complaints. Elders unable to communicate their pain or abuse must rely on family and friends to look out for them.
Reporting Elder Abuse in California
In California, you can consider reporting the suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS). Each county has its own APS to help dependent adults and seniors who cannot meet their own needs. You can call the hotline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 833-401-0832. The system will prompt you to enter your zip code to route you to the correct office.
Don’t stop with APS. There are more options for reporting potential elder abuse. Additional reporting agencies include:
- Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman oversees elder abuse investigations in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, day programs, and other institutions. You can call their CRISISline at 800-231-4024.
- California Department of Health Care Services is also an option if you suspect Medi-Cal fraud by an in-home supportive provider and can be reached at 800-822-6222.
- Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse protects older adults’ rights, specifically against financial abuse and medical fraud. You can contact their hotline at 800-722-0432.
You might be wondering what happens when you report suspected abuse that turns out to be false. As long as you make a report in good faith that you believe something is going on, there are no repercussions should an investigation reveal no abuse.
Contact Our Lawyers at Silva Injury Law
If you have questions on what to do if you suspect elder abuse in California, contact Silva Injury Law. We have years of experience assisting elder abuse victims in getting the justice they deserve. Attorney Michael Joe Silva previously worked as a deputy district attorney for Merced County. As a former prosecutor, he knows the importance of building the strongest case possible. We aim to help ensure the guilty parties never harm another older person again. Contact our office to schedule an appointment to learn how we can assist you.
FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP
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.