Costa Mesa Elder Abuse Lawyer
Our senior loved ones are the patriarchs and matriarchs of our family. We remember when they were physically and mentally strong. However, we must all face the heartbreaking reality that with age, they suddenly become dependent upon the care and compassion of others.
As more and more of our eldest loved ones enter into their golden years, many will have to enter nursing homes and other care facilities. When this difficult decision has been made, we expect the caretakers to adhere to a high level of respect and care. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect and abuse is a tragic reality that some may have to face.
Nursing homes are required by California law to provide a specified level of care to all of its patients. Failure to meet the needs of the patients is a form of abuse and should be immediately reported to law enforcement and the associated government agencies. Speaking to an attorney about the abuse is highly recommended.
In an effort to cut costs and increase profits, many nursing homes have been caught violating health and safety standards and hiring people without the proper training or education to reduce employee costs. In fact, the California Attorney General’s office recently doubled the size of its elder abuse division after a study found that:
- Only one nursing home in LA County was in full compliance for health and safety standards.
- Only eighteen homes in the San Francisco area were in compliance.
- Zero Santa Barbara area nursing homes were in compliance with these regulations.
Four Categories Of Elder Abuse
The law defines elder abuse as any type of abuse against someone who is 65 years old or older. This devastating type of abuse is categorized into four main types of abuse.
Physical abuse includes any action that willfully inflicts bodily harm on the individual. For elder abuse, this may include, but is not limited to:
- Inflicting physical pain and suffering by hitting, kicking, slapping, or otherwise injuring the elderly person
- Physically restraining the individual
- Withholding food or water causing dehydration or starvation
- Sexual abuse of any kind
- Not administering medications properly or withholding medications
Signs of physical abuse may include:
- Black eyes, bruises, burn marks, welts, lacerations, rope marks
- Fractured or broken bones, including skull fractures
- Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
- Sprains, dislocations, internal injuries/bleeding
- Broken eyeglasses/frames, physical signs of being subjected to punishment, and signs of being restrained
- Laboratory findings of medication overdose or under utilization of prescribed drugs
- An elder’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or otherwise mistreated;
- An elder’s sudden change in behavior
- The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- An elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped
Neglect may include many different situations and is not limited to the following:
- Allowing bed sores to occur by not turning individual
- Not keeping the elder individual clean
- Starvation, malnutrition or dehydration
- Creating conditions that are dangerous for the individual
Signs of neglect can include:
- Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
- Unattended or untreated health problems
- Hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
- Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
- An elder’s report of being mistreated
Emotional abuse can come in several forms, including:
- Intimidation of being hurt or mistreated
- Isolation from others out of neglect or as punishment
- Ridicule or verbal abuse
Signs of emotional abuse can include:
- Being emotionally upset or agitated
- Being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive
- Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (e.g., sucking, biting, rocking)
- An elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated
Financial abuse can include many different situations, but are most commonly associated with:
- Theft of personal property for personal gain
- Forgery or fraud, including identity theft, or the signing of legal documents
- Mismanagement of finances
Signs of financial abuse can include:
- Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder
- The inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card
- Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card
- Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources
- Discovery of an elder’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder’s affairs and possessions
- Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- The provision of services that are not necessary
- An elder’s report of financial exploitation
Costa Mesa nursing homes are required to provide the following to all of their residents:
- A standard of care for each senior resident that will allow them to live in a safe environment that encourages them to have the highest quality of life possible with their specific physical and mental limitations taken into consideration.
- Services and activities that enhance quality of life and maintain a healthy psycho-social balance. Programs should be in place to adjust to the changing needs of each patient.
- A written care plan should be done on each resident so that all of their specific needs are met. This written plan should be followed daily and reevaluated every couple of months to ensure health and happiness.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Costa Mesa, CA
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or is currently being abused in a nursing home, you must do the following:
- Speak to your loved one and ask them to tell you what is going on. Any information that you receive from them should be documented with a time and date. Remember, many elderly people suffer intimidation at the hands of their abuser. If they deny abuse, yet you still see physical signs, you must act to protect their interests.
- Photograph any evidence that has led you to believe there is abuse taking place. This includes bruising, bed sores, and dry and cracked lips, which are a sign of dehydration.
- Contact law enforcement. You need to file a police report that abuse is taking place. Any type of abuse is illegal and a police report should be made to ensure that the authorities get involved.
- Follow through with your police report by contacting government agencies that are in charge of elder abuse cases. The police will most likely provide you with the information on whom to contact.
- Contact an attorney. Elder abuse is a very serious issue and your attorney can aggressively represent your loved one to ensure that the abuse is stopped, the criminals are held accountable, and compensation is issued.
At the Costa Mesa Law Offices of Brent A. Duque, we maintain a staff of a highly professional, knowledgeable, dynamic and successful elder abuse attorneys who represent injured people through our offices across Southern California. Time limitations apply to any injury claim you might have, so for purposes of investigating a possible case and possibly preserving evidence, it’s best for you to contact us immediately after an injury or case of neglect.
Contact our Orange County Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.