Employees should know their rights when it comes to reporting elder abuse. With the number of baby-boomers on the rise, it is unfortunately inevitable that we will see the corresponding increased abuse of senior citizens. This “golden” generation is regrettably most susceptible to crime and neglect due to its accumulated assets, trusting mentality, and diminished mental capacity. Enter the criminals and institutions who aim to prey on this most vulnerable subset of our society. Here is information you need to know to combat this growing epidemic.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse applies to anyone age 65 or older. It may be criminal or civil, and may arise in the form of physical, financial, emotional, or neglect. Criminal elder abuse takes place when a person knows that the victim is an elder and purposely causes, or allows another to cause, physical or mental suffering to the elder. Also, it is a crime to intentionally cause or allow the elderly to be in a situation where his or her health is in danger. (Penal Code Section 368.) Civil elder abuse expands the scope beyond mere physical and mental to financial, neglect, abandonment, isolation, and abduction that leads to physical or mental harm. (Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15610.07.) A growing trend of civil elder abuse is found to be performed by health care custodians, or caregivers, who are charged with watching over the well-being of senior citizens.
What are the Signs?
The most blatant signs of physical abuse are repeated injuries such as bruises or skin marks in the same area, malnutrition or dehydration, or unexplained broken or fractured bones. Signs of mental abuse are when the victim refuses to speak about the injury, is in denial, is confused, showcases depression, or is agitated or defensive. Some signs of financial abuse are when families divert social security checks from elderly victims or the unreasonable signing of financial documents by a victim who seems to lack mental alertness.
What Should You Do?
Aside from the crime of failing to report elder abuse, employees have the right to report any signs because it is the right thing to do. Labor Codes protect employees from retaliation when they report illegal activity such as elder abuse in the workplace.
After reporting possible elder abuse to the police, one may also notify the County District Attorney’s Office Elder Abuse Section (http://da.lacounty.gov/seniors/), or Adult Protective Services agency at the California Department of Social Services which is tasked with investigating abuse.
If you believe that you’ve witnessed elder abuse, it is recommended that you immediately contact the experienced elder abuse law attorneys at Stephen Danz and Associates.