What Is Elder Abuse And How Can It Be Prevented?
The elderly comprise one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. Yet, problems involving elder abuse have long been ignored. An estimated one out of every twenty seniors in this country experiences elder abuse – usually at the hands of a family member or trusted caretaker. Still most elder abuse goes unreported.
The following are a few types of elder abuse pursuant to the California Welfare and Institution Code:
- Abandonment is the detection or “willful forsaking” of an elder person by a caregiver under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care.
- Financial Abuse is when anyone takes or keeps an elder’s property for “wrongful use” or “with the intent to defraud” or both.
- Isolation involves preventing the senior from receiving mail or telephone calls, or from contact with family and friends. The senior may even be locked in a room or tied to a chair.
- Psychological Abuse is behavior intended to create mental suffering, i.e. fear, agitation, confusion or other forms of emotional distress.
- Another common type of elder abuse is a caregiver – paid or unpaid – guilty of Neglect if he or she fails to adequately assist the senior with personal hygiene or to provide food, clothing, shelter or needed medical care, called physical abuse.
If you or a loved one is in an abusive situation, you may be afraid to tell someone – but help is available. Ask for help before its gets worse. There are Adult Protective Services (APS) in your local communities that provide help. Adult Protective Services agencies investigate reports of abuse that occur in private homes, acute care hospitals, clinics, adult day care facilities and social day care centers. If known or suspected abuse has occurred in a private home or other type of facility contact:
Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services
3333 Wilshire Blvd., 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010
APS also provides Ombudsmen, who are trained individuals who advocate for the protection and rights of all residents in long-term care facilities. These facilities include skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, community care facilities and intermediate care facilities. If known or suspected abuse has occurred in a long-term care facility, a report can be made to the local county LongTerm Care Ombudsman on a 24-hour crisis line (800) 231- 4024.
Additionally, your local Police and Sheriff’s Departments should be contacted if you or someone you know may be the victim of elder abuse. Many local law enforcement agencies have Elder Abuse Units. Call your local Police or Sheriff’s Department, and ask if they have an Elder Abuse Unit. If there is an emergency, you should call 911 immediately.
The elderly can protect themselves by obtaining Emergency Protective Orders through the authorities to prevent the abuser from coming near them for at least seven calendar days until such time as they obtain what is called a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A TRO will be affective when ordered by a Judge and served upon the abuser. A victim of elder abuse may also seek a Permanent restraining Order, which means that the TRO will be in effect for up to three years and can be renewed. The Court Clerk in your local Court house can provide the necessary forms to obtain the restraining orders. Those individuals that qualify as assistance needed individuals can obtain the service of the legal aid to help prepare the forms. Others who don’t qualify can follow the direction to seek the services of a local attorney familiar in the area of elder abuse. Report elder abuse to the proper authorities before it is too late and seek competent legal advice to protect the rights of the ones you love.
This column is produced by Mary Der-Parseghian, Esq. For questions or comments, please send your message to 4727 Wilshire blvd., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90010; E-mail: Mary@MaryDLaw.com or call at 323-937-2727. For additional articles please visit our webpage at www.MaryDLaw.com.
© 2011. Der-Parseghian Law Group