Protect Your Loved Ones from Elder Abuse
How to Recognize and Prevent Physical and Financial Abuse
High profile cases of elder abuse have often made headlines in the last few years, but elder abuse wasn’t actually recognized as a societal issue until the early 1980’s. Elder abuse is now in the forefront of issues in California due to the recognition of the widespread nature of elder abuse and the rapid growth in the population of California’s seniors. At least one in seven people in California are now considered seniors. In Sonoma County, seniors number more than 76,000, which is more than 17% of the population.
Many of these seniors are, or will be, victims of elder abuse. Statistics show that approximately five to ten percent of older persons are victims of elder abuse. However, only 1 in 14 elder abuse cases are reported to the authorities. California elder abuse law concerns persons 65 years of age and older. The law defines two basic types of elder abuse: (1) physical abuse, including neglect, abandonment, isolation, and abduction; (2) financial abuse, which is taking an elder's money or property for a wrongful use, by a person who has care, custody, or is in a position of trust of the elder.
California law provides special legal protection for elderly persons. The legal protection include civil claims for damages which include recovery of punitive damages, attorneys fees and restitution. Criminal penalties also apply in many cases.
Recognizing Elder Abuse
The best defense against elder abuse is recognizing that it is occurring and getting help. The following are signs that elder abuse may be occurring:
Preventing Elder Abuse
Families can help their elderly family members avoid abuse by the following:
An elder can help avoid abuse by the following:
With the rapidly increasing senior population, elder abuse will continue to be a problem in California. If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused in Sonoma County, call the Adult Protective Services at (800) 667-0404. If the abused person is in a nursing home, residential care home or assisted living facility call the Ombudsman at (707) 526-4108.
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