Protecting Elders against Abuse and Exploitation
California state laws take a hard stance against elder abuse and neglect. Abuse of an elderly person can entail anything from willful neglect to physical assault to financial exploitation. Elderly adults (anyone 65 years or older) are protected as a special class under the law. The law recognizes that many elderly adults are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to their health and dependence upon others for care, and provides legal safeguards to account for their safety and legal rights.
Elderly adults who are especially vulnerable to abuse are those with disabilities or poor physical health, and/or degenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Beyond that, care and living conditions can play a role in incidents of elder abuse. Overcrowding and insufficient staffing are common issues in California for-profit residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, convalescent hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities, and contribute to dangerous conditions for elderly residents.
When it comes to incidents of abuse that occur in the skilled facility setting, neglect and lack of proper supervision are major factors. For example, a serious bed sore that develops on an elderly patient's body may be the result of neglect if caregivers failed to follow protocol and reposition the patient often. Failing to monitor an elderly resident with dementia can be considered abuse as well, as it is the responsibility of caregivers and staff to ensure that these residents do not put themselves in danger. Slip-and-fall incidents among nursing home residents are all too common and can have deadly consequences. Fall injuries are almost always serious in elderly adults, and they are almost always entirely preventable too. Proper supervision and assistance should always be provided to nursing home residents when they are using bathroom facilities and/or transferring in and out of bed; therefore, failing to provide such services can be considered abuse in many cases.
We here at the Law Offices of William C. Bibb serve victims of elder abuse all over Southern California. Palm Desert, Palm Springs, San Diego County, Riverside County, Oceanside, Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, San Bernardino, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe and many other communities.
In addition to protecting the rights of elderly adults living in skilled facilities, I also advocate on behalf of those who are abused and/or exploited by caregivers in their own home. Financial exploitation is a serious issue that often arises when family, friends, and/or private caregivers manage the financial affairs of elderly adults. Due to the fact that many health conditions can diminish an elderly person's ability to recognize mistreatment, or voice concern for his or her safety, abuse by caregivers goes unchecked too often and for too long. I am well-versed in the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, and am committed to the health and safety of my clients. I also understand how important it is for the loved ones of elderly abuse victims to achieve justice in these cases.
Knowing the Signs of Abuse
An important factor in being able to effectively identify and prevent elder abuse is being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse when it occurs.
Unexplained physical injuries often linked to maltreatment include:
- Unexpected falls
- Bedsores and pressure ulcers
- Untimely or unexplained death
- Medication errors such as overdoses
- Any unexplained injuries like fractures, head injuries, bruises, cuts, burns, abrasions
Signs and symptoms of neglect include:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Unclean or unsanitary living conditions
- disheveled or unclean physical appearance
Some of the behavioral and emotional changes that a person suffering from elder abuse may exhibit include:
- Frequent crying
- Agitation, withdrawal, or fear
- Fear or erratic behavior
Understanding why Nursing Home Abuse Occurs
Negligent hiring practices on the part of nursing home facilities are a major contributing factor to elder abuse. Too often, facilities do not perform adequate background checks on prospective employees, and fail to properly train the employees that they have. Some certified nursing assistants (CNA) and other staff change facilities following accusations of patient neglect or abuse, and are never held accountable for their misconduct. Other times, CNA's are expected to perform the duties of trained nurses, despite the fact that they do not have the education or experience necessary. The overcrowding of many nursing home facilities contributes to overwhelming and unsafe working conditions, which in turn also leads to avoidable mistakes and the mistreatment of residents.
Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities
While the ultimate goal is to identify and prevent any and all incidents of elder abuse that occur, there are times when family members are not alerted to any incidents of mistreatment until their loved one has already passed. Wrongful death tort claims not only provide the family members of elder abuse victims with legal avenues for pursuing compensation in such cases, but they are also an effective way to protect others and prevent elder abuse from occurring in the future. My primary goal is to advocate on behalf of my clients and the elderly community, and protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society from harmful abuse. I have the medical and legal experience necessary to navigate the complexities of elder abuse law.