Orange County Elder Abuse Lawyer
We all expect the highest level of care when we have to trust others to care for our eldest family members. While we may want to preserve the time when they were physically and mentally strong, the heartbreaking reality is that with age, they may suddenly become dependent upon the care and compassion of others.
When the difficult decision has been made to place our elders in a nursing home or other care facility, it often puts a heavy strain on the entire family. Knowing that they are loved and cared for makes this experience easier. Unfortunately, many do not have this good fortune.
Nursing homes are required to provide a specific level of care to all of its patients. Failure to meet the needs of the patients is abuse and should be reported immediately to local law enforcement as well as the associated government agencies. Speaking to an attorney about the abuse is highly recommended.
In an effort to cut costs or increase profits, many nursing homes have been caught hiring people without the proper training or education in an effort to reduce employee costs. Many facilities have also been known to violate health and safety standards.
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 found to be in full compliance for health and safety standards.
- Only eighteen homes were in compliance in the San Francisco area.
- None of the nursing homes in the Santa Barbara area were in full compliance with these regulations.
Four Categories Of Elder Abuse
Under California state law, elder abuse is defined as any type of abuse against someone who is 65 years old or older. This tragic type of abuse is categorized into four main types of abuse.
Physical abuse can include any action that willfully inflicts bodily harm. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Inflicting physical pain and suffering by scratching, hitting, kicking, slapping, biting or otherwise injuring the elderly person
- Physically restraining the individual
- Withholding food or water causing malnutrition, starvation or dehydration
- Sexual abuse of any kind
- Improperly administering medications or withholding prescribed medications
Signs of physical abuse can include:
- Bruises, black eyes, scratches, bite marks, welts, lacerations, rope marks
- Broken or fractured bones, including skull fractures
- Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
- Dislocations, sprains, internal injuries/bleeding
- Broken eyeglasses or 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 mistreated;
- An elder’s sudden change in behavior
- The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see the 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 can include many different situations and is not limited to the following:
- Not turning individual, allowing bed sores to appear
- Not providing good hygiene or not keeping the individual clean
- Starvation or dehydration
- Creating conditions that are dangerous for the elderly 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 on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
- An elder’s report of being mistreated
Emotional abuse can come in several forms, including:
- Threats of being harmed or mistreated
- Isolation from others out of neglect or as a punishment
- Ridicule or verbal abuse
Signs of emotional abuse can include:
- Becoming emotionally upset or agitated
- Personality changes; Becoming unusually 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 and abrupt changes in bank account or banking activity, 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 am ATM card
- Sudden changes to a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Substandard care being provided or unpaid bills 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 and 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
Califonia nursing homes are required to provide the following to all of their residents:
- A high standard of care for each resident that will allow them to live in a safe environment that encourages them to have the highest quality of life possible within their specific limitations
- Provide 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 patient so that all of their individual needs are met. This written plan should be followed daily and re-evaluated every couple of months to ensure health and happiness.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Orange County, CA
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or is currently being abused in a nursing home or other care provider, you must do the following:
- Speak to your loved one as soon as possible and ask them to tell you in detail what is going on. Any information that you receive from them should be documented with a time and date. Remember, many elderly people suffer threats and/or 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 Orange County Law Offices of Brent A. Duque, we maintain a staff of a highly professional, knowledgeable, aggressive and successful elder abuse attorneys who represent injured people through our offices that stretch 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 the Orange County law office of Brent A. Duque at 877-241-9554 for a free consultation and case evaluation. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.