Elder abuse can involve violence, psychological trauma, isolation, abandonment, confinement, neglect and theft. These acts are criminal if perpetrated against a person of any age, but if the victim is 65 years or older, the penalties are stiffer.
Abuse may be at the hands of a stranger, a significant other, a relative or a professional, such as a nurse, accountant or member of the clergy. When an offender is in a position of trust, the abuse may be more difficult to detect because the senior may be unwilling to report a family member or be afraid to denounce a caregiver. In addition, a victim may really believe in a fraudulent church, charity or friend to which she or he has donated money and is often more susceptible to investment and prize-winning scams.
After learning of your loved one’s abuse, your first reaction is likely one of shock, especially if you trusted the person or organization responsible for the abuse. However, you are not alone. These resources can help you take the appropriate actions to protect your loved one from further harm:
- California Department of Social Services (CDSS) can give you more information about elder abuse and provide referrals to agencies in your area.
- The Santa Clara County Department of Aging and Adult Services investigates allegations of elder neglect and abuse and can respond immediately to emergency situations.
- If you live far from your elderly loved one, the police department or sheriff’s office can make well-being checks upon your request.
- The California Department of Public Health’s Licensing and Certification Program handles reports of abuse at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and health clinics.
- A Palo Alto elder abuse attorney can explain your loved one’s entitlement to compensation for the damages resulting from the abuse.