Elder Neglect Is A National Concern

The amount of elder neglect and abuse in our nation is shocking.  According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, nearly 10% of American age 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse.

For profit nursing homes and assisted living have a controlling mission of increasing profit.  When a nursing home looks to cut costs, its often looks to its highest costs which is labor. As a result of understaffing or staffing with unqualified personnel, nursing homes fail to adequately monitor and provide for the basic needs of its residents. Residents can suffer from decubitus ulcers (often called bed sores), dehydration and malnutrition as a result. Another common occurrence is failing to provide timely assistance to rise from bed in order to use the bathroom which can result in tragic and deadly consequences.

Definition of Elder Neglect Under California Law

California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15600 protects elders (anyone 65 year of age or older) and dependent adults from many types of abuse and neglect.  “Neglect” means either of the following:

  1. The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise; or
  2. The negligent failure of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of self care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.

Neglect includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:

  1. Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter.
  2. Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs. (Note: No person shall be deemed neglected or abused for the sole reason that he or she voluntarily relies on treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in lieu of medical treatment.)
  3. Failure to protect from health and safety hazards.
  4. Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration.
  5. Failure of an elder or dependent adult to satisfy the needs specified above for himself or herself as a result of poor cognitive functioning, mental limitation, substance abuse, or chronic poor health.

Rights And Damages Provided Under California Law For Elder Neglect And Abuse

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

 

Actions In Response To Suspected Elder Neglect And Abuse

If you suspect elder abuse and neglect, don’t hesitate to take action. Consider the following:

  • 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 injuries the senior suffered and his or her room.  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 An Elder Neglect 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 treat.  Take action and contact us without delay.  The Dolan Law Firm is one the leading personal injury law firms in California. We represent seniors and their families in elder abuse and neglect lawsuits.

We represent clients from San Francisco, the Bay Area and across California.  Please click here to contact us or call us toll free at 1-888-452-4752.