Santa Ana Elder Abuse Lawyer
As the beloved matriarchs and patriarchs of the family enter their golden years, many will rely on nursing homes or other type of care facility. While you still want to remember when they were physically and mentally strong, you may have to face the sad reality that with age, they suddenly become dependent upon the care and compassion of others.
When the difficult decision has been made to place your loved one in the care of others, you expect the caretakers to maintain 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 law to provide a dignified and satisfactory level of care to their patients. Failure to meet the needs of the patients is abuse and should be reported to law enforcement and the associated government agencies immediately. Speaking to an attorney about the abuse is also highly recommended.
In an effort to cut costs or increase profits, many elder care facilities have cited for violating health and safety standards and hiring people without the proper training or education to reduce employee costs.
As a result, 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 (18) San Francisco area nursing homes were in compliance.
- None of the nursing homes in the Santa Barbara area were in compliance with these regulations.
Four Categories Of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be classified as any type of abuse occurring against any person 65 years old or older. This heartbreaking abuse is categorized into four main types of abuse.
Physical abuse includes any action that willfully inflicts bodily harm on the individual, including but is not limited to:
- Slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise injuring the elderly person
- Physically restraining the individual
- Causing dehydration or malnutrition by withholding water or food
- Sexual abuse of any kind
- Improperly administering medications or withholding any or all prescribed medications
Signs of physical abuse can include:
- Welts, lacerations, rope marks, bruises, bite marks, black eyes
- Bone fractures or breaks, including skull fractures
- Open cuts, wounds, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
- Sprains, dislocations
- Internal injuries/bleeding
- Broken glasses or frames
- Physical signs of being punished and/or 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
- Sudden an unexplained change in behavior in elderly person
- 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/anal bleeding
- Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- An elder’s report of being sexually assaulted or raped
Neglect can include many scenarios and is not limited to the following:
- Not turning individual, allowing bed sores to occur
- Not maintaining good hygiene to keep the individual clean
- Starvation, malnutrition or dehydration
- Creating conditions that are dangerous for the individual
Signs of neglect may include:
- Sudden weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores or poor personal hygiene
- Untreated health problems
- Hazardous or unsafe living condition (no heat, improper wiring or no running water)
- Unsanitary/unclean living conditions (fecal/urine smell, soiled bedding, inadequate clothing, dirt, fleas, lice)
- An elder’s report of being mistreated
Emotional abuse may come in several forms, including:
- Threat 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 agitated or emotionally upset
- Being unusually withdrawn, non communicative or non responsive
- Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia (rocking, biting, sucking)
- An elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated
Financial abuse may include many scenarios, but are most commonly associated with:
- Theft of money or 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 balance or banking activity, including any unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a caregiver
- The inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card
- Unauthorized withdrawal of funds using the elder’s ATM card
- Sudden changes to a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Bills unpaid or substandard care being provided despite the availability of adequate financial resources
- Evidence of an elder’s signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions
- Abrupt 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
California nursing homes are required by law to provide the following to all of their residents:
- A standard of care for each resident that allows them to live in a safe environment that encourages them to have the highest quality of life possible within their physical limitations
- Services and activities provided 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 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 Santa Ana, CA
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or is currently being abused, you must do the following:
- Ask your loved one directly what is going on. Any information that you receive from them should be documented with a date and time. Remember, many elderly people suffer threats 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 that abuse is taking place. This includes burns, bites, bruises, bed sores, and dry and cracked lips, which are a sign of dehydration.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency. 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 and tragic 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 Santa Ana 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 our Orange County Personal Injury Attorney 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.