News Room

Protecting Seniors from Elder Abuse

Written on behalf of Brian Kabateck
January 12, 2018

Abuse can happen to anyone, no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background. Each year, thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. This is called elder abuse. Abuse can happen in many places, including the older person’s home, a family member’s house, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. As elders become more physically frail, they’re less able to stand up to bullying and or fight back if they were to be attacked. They may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving room for people to take advantage of them.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, in the U.S. alone, more than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans reach authorities every year, and millions more cases go unreported. There are many types of abuse that older people endure. Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping. Emotional abuse includes yelling, threatening, or ignoring a person. This can sometimes come from a caregiver who could be treating an older person with disrespect and even keep them from seeing their relatives or close friends. Neglect is another form of abuse and it occurs when the caregiver doesn’t respond or listen to an older person’s needs. Many seniors experience abandonment without planning for their care. In some instances, the elderly may experience sexual abuse which involves a person forcing them to watch or to be part of sexual acts.

Financial abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen. It can include forging checks, taking someone else’s retirement and Social Security benefits, or using another person’s credit cards and bank accounts. It can also include changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, or title to a house without permission. Financial abuse is becoming a widespread issue that is hard to detect. Even someone you’ve never met can steal your financial information using the telephone or email. That’s why people should be careful about sharing any financial information over the phone or online because that information can fall into the wrong hands.

Abuse in nursing homes is an ongoing issue that many people experience. Loved ones may want to take their senior relatives into better conditions where they think that they are taken care of but that may not be true in a lot of cases. Many seniors claim they’ve experienced many forms of abuse in nursing homes, ranging from physical assaults to neglect. Many of these cases will go unreported and will continue happening throughout the facility, and it’s been found that employees in nursing homes are destroying evidence that links them to any form of abuse.

Lawmakers introduced AB 859, with the support of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), which was aimed at protecting seniors abused in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. While Governor Brown ultimately vetoed the legislation, the goal was to discourage facilities from intentionally destroying legal evidence in violation of the law. Normally, to show elder abuse, the victim must show that they have been neglected and have compelling evidence to proof so. However, to deprive victims of exactly that evidence, some defendant nursing homes intentionally destroy that very evidence.

Advocates must continue fighting on behalf of seniors and their families who seek justice after a nursing home destroys evidence when elder abuse has occurred. Elder abuse will not stop on its own unless someone steps in and helps. Many older people may be too ashamed to report mistreatment or may be afraid to speak up because they fear their abuser might retaliate against them. If you think someone you know is being abused either physically, emotionally, or financially, talk to them and offer to get help, for instance, at a local adult protective services agency. Many local, state, and national social service agencies can help with emotional, legal, and financial problems.

KBK represents victims of elder abuse who pursue civil action against a perpetrator and in some cases, additional parties. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Kabateck LLP a call today to learn more about recovering damages and to explore your options. We can help you achieve the maximum compensation for the harm you or a loved one has suffered.