The Horrors of Elder Abuse and Neglect


Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: November 25, 2009

Hey, sometimes Elder Abuse is not so obvious. It is reprehensible, it is outrageous, it is legally actionable but is it always apparent?

There are basically five types of elder abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers
  • Financial Exploitation

In this article, I’m going to give a brief description of these types of abuse.

Keep in mind that an elderly person can be subjected to any one of these abuses or a combination of them. In the next article, I will discuss what you can do if you suspect, or know, that an elderly person is being abused.

Physical Abuse

Physical elder abuse is non-accidental use of force against an elderly person causing physical pain, impairment or injury. This includes physical assaults (hitting, shoving) and/or inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement. In California, “physical abuse” is defined in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15610.63.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional elder abuse is the emotional or psychological abuse of an elderly person that causes him or her emotional pain or distress. This can include intimidation through yelling, threats, humiliation, ridicule, blaming or scapegoating.

There are even non-verbal forms of psychological abuse such as ignoring the elderly person, isolating him or her from friends or activities or even terrorizing or menacing the elderly person.

Sexual Abuse

 What kind of monster would sexually abuse an elder? Well, for that matter, what kind of monster would sexually abuse anyone? The focus here, though, is on elder abuse. It may seem obvious but, just in case, here are some of the ways in which an elder can be sexually abused:

Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers

Horrifically, those charged with the care of the elderly can often neglect or abandon them, leaving them helpless and unable to fend for themselves. Here is a list of acts, or failures to act, which constitute neglect, per California Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.67(b): Failure to…

  • assist in personal hygiene, or in provision of food, clothing or shelter
  • provide medical care for physical & mental health needs
  • protect from health & safety hazards
  • prevent malnutrition or dehydration

Even more simply put (and still per the above code), neglect is defined as “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. Sort of a catch-all.

Financial Exploitation

 The unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property by a caretaker or outside scam artist. Blatant, and maybe not so blatant, exploitations may be as follows:
  • Misuse of elder’s personal checks, credit cards or other financial accounts
  • Steal cash, income checks, or household goods
  • Forge the elder’s signature
  • Engage in identity theft
  • Phony charities
  • Investment Fraud

Don’t Ignore The Signs or Cries For Help!

We all want to think that these things can’t happen to someone we love. However, it you see it happening (either to someone you love or to yourself), tell the elder’s doctor, a trusted friend or family member. You can also call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.

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I’m passionate about representing my injured clients. I'm a Personal injury lawyer who treats you with the respect that you deserve.

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