Elder Abuse Law Firm: Identify, Prevent & Stop Elder Abuse


Chris Dolan White Paper
While many dedicated professionals work at residential care facilities for seniors, elder abuse and elder neglect is on the rise. In the case of nursing homes and senior care facilities, the motive of increasing profit often accompanies a greater risk of injury or exploitation of elder and dependent adults.

We want to empower all seniors and their families to identify, prevent and stop elder abuse.  What constitutes elder abuse and neglect under California law? How can elder abuse be stopped? What are rights of patients in nursing homes and other senior facilities? These some of the questions we answer in a comprehensive booklet we wrote on this topic.  You can download it by clicking here.

Below you will find questions and answers to key questions on California law to protect the elderly and disabled people from neglect. If you do not see an answer to one of your questions, or wish for one of experienced elder abuse attorneys to review your case or that of a family member, please complete our contact form or call us toll free at 1-888-452-4752.  There is no charge or obligation for our review your case.

Who Is Protected Under California Law From Elder Abuse And Neglect?

California law protects elders, dependent adults, and developmentally disabled person from many types of abuse and neglect.

An “elder” is anyone within California who is 65 years of age or older.

A “dependent adult” is any person between the ages of 18 and 64 who resides in California and who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights. A dependent adult also includes any person who is admitted as an inpatient to a 24-hour health care facility.  This may include the elderly, those suffering dementia, the developmentally disabled, the brain injured, psychiatric patients and, in some instances, those in rehabilitation facilities.

A “developmentally disabled person” is any person with a disability that originates before an individual reaches age 18, continues, or can be expected to continue, indefinitely and constitutes a substantial disability for that person.  This may include persons with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism.

What is Elder Abuse?

Abuse of of an elder or dependent adult can be:

  • Abandonment (desertion of an elder by his/her caregiver),
  • Abduction (removal from and/or restraint outside of California),
  • Financial abuse (illegal or unethical exploitation or use of elder’s assets, funds and/or property),
  • Isolation (intentional prevention of an elder from communicating with others),
  • Neglect (failure by caretakers to perform duties and obligations relating to elder’s health and welfare),
  • Physical abuse (infliction of physical pain or suffering including use of physical restraints and prescription drugs to control and punish), or
  • Other treatment that causes physical harm or pain or mental suffering.

In addition, the denial by a care custodian of goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering constitutes elder abuse under California law.  Care custodians are administrators or employees of any facility proving care or services for elders or dependent adults.

Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse And Nursing Home Neglect

  • Bedsores: also called pressure sores or press ulcers, injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone.
  • Bruises, scratches, blisters, and pinch marks.
  • Burns caused by ropes, restraints or scalding water.
  • Failure to change sheets, undergarments and bandages.
  • Financial exploitation and fraud.
  • Foul smelling, unchanged diapers and/or bed sheets.
  • Improper restraints resulting in injuries with an outline on the body.
  • Lack of supervision that leads to falls and injuries from falling.
  • Malnourishment or dehydration.
  • Overmedication: excessive use of antipsychotics, sedatives and other prescription drugs to “chemically restrain” or punish.
  • Poor hygiene including unwashed, uncombed or matted hair, unkept appearance, poor skin condition, and untrimmed nails.
  • Refusal to answer calls for reasonable requests for assistance, such as helping the senior rise from bed to use the bathroom.
  • Repeated injuries inconsistent with explanations.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Stealing property, money and checks.
  • Untreated medical conditions.

What Steps Should Be Taken Immediately If You Suspect Elder Abuse?

If you suspect elder abuse, don’t hesitate to take action. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.  One study found that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported.

  • If the senior is in immediate danger from physical abuse or has been physically abused, call 9-1-1. Elder abuse is a crime.
  • Take action so that elder abuse is reported, and appropriate civil and criminal ramifications imposed.

For local reporting agencies call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit their website at www.eldercare.gov.  Reporting agencies may include the State Department of Social Services, the State Department of Health Services (nursing home complaint division), county Adult Protective Services (APS) and county ombudsmans.

When you call to report Elder Abuse be prepared to with the following information: elder’s name, address, and contact information, the type of support received by the elder (family, medical, social care, etc.) and details of the type of elder abuse and who the abuser is.

  • It is critical to document the senior’s physical condition as much as possible as well as his/her living conditions.  Take photographs of the victim and room/housing.  Record in a notebook or computer unsanitary conditions, poor hygiene, bedsores, physical abuse and improper restraints.
  • If possible make formal complaints to facility supervisors. Document the dates you called, who you spoke with and what the response was. Keep copies of all correspondence.

Contact A San Francisco Elder Abuse Attorney At The Dolan Law Firm

Once you address the senior’s immediate safety and health care needs, you will rightly be upset at how your loved one was treated.  You need to take action. California law provides for the recovery of damages for pain and suffering, economic damages, and punitive damages  when there has been recklessness, fraud and/or patient abandonment.

We are leaders in the plaintiffs’ bar in representing individuals and their families subjected to elder abuse and neglect at senior, assisted living and nursing homes.  We represent clients from San Francisco, Oakland, the entire Bay Area and across California.  Please contact us online or call us toll free at 1-888-452-4752.

Don’t Delay. Contact Us Now.

If you or a family member suffered a serious injury due to the fault of another or were discriminated against, please contact us today for a free, no obligation review of your case.

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