Elder abuse is defined as any form of willful harm caused by another person towards a person 65 years or older. If the harm caused to the elder was willful, or if the harm was completely unjustifiable then it is considered criminal elder abuse. Elder abuse that will be dealt with through civil law includes lesser harm such as neglect, abandonment, financial abuse, or poor treatment in general.
Common forms of elder abuse include:
- Financial abuse
- Mental suffering
- Neglect and abandonment
- Physical abuse
Physical abuse is easy to identify as the elder will usually have bruises or marks to prove they were being harmed. However, the other forms of abuse are not so easily identifiable. Anyone who notices that an elder seems malnourished, agitated, depressed, withdrawn, or generally unhappy should consider talking to them to find out if they are being abused behind closed doors.
A major indicator of abuse is that the elder is not permitted to do anything, even speak for themselves when others are present. They may also be socially isolated from others and restricted from basic daily activities that would allow them to socialize with others.
Anyone who suspects an elder is being abused can file a report with the authorities. They do not have to be related to the elder, they simply must have a strong reason to believe the elder is not being treated right for their complaint to be valid.
What happens if I do not report elder abuse?
Mandated reporters, such as individuals who supervise the elderly individual like staff members in a nursing home, or the individual responsible for being the caregiver of the elder must report any abuse. The law requires these individuals to report any abuse occurring to elderly individuals.
The abuse should be reported as soon as possible after a person realizes what is happening. Elder abuse can escalate quickly, and to preserve the physical and mental health of the individual, proper precautions should be taken right away.
If a person is a mandated reporter and they fail to report the abuse, they can face serious legal penalties in California. They can face up to 6 months in county jail or fines of up to $1000. More serious cases will naturally result in worse legal penalties.
The health and well-being of one’s elderly relatives should always be prioritized. Anyone who feels like an elder is being abused should call a nursing home abuse lawyer to help them file their complaints and to help them win justice for their elderly relative.