Protecting Our Vulnerable Loved Ones
The care arrangements in a retirement community are based on a sacred foundation of trust. Since those receiving the care are often unable to fend for themselves and their loved ones do not have the time or resources to monitor their treatment every hour of every day, it is crucial that caregivers exercise kindness and self-restraint as they perform their duties. Unfortunately, this trust is sometimes abused, and the elderly are subjected to emotional, physical, and financial mistreatment. Elder abuse affects many people in Orange County, Los Angeles, and the rest of the nation each year, leading to suffering, financial hardship, and even death. Those with a loved one victimized by this horrible form of medical malpractice can seek legal redress with the aid of experienced personal injury lawyers at Burke Argos.
- Categories of Elder Abuse
- Signs of Elder Abuse
- Special Laws Concerning Elder Abuse
Mistreatment Of Seniors
Categories Of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse occurs in several forms. A number of common types are listed and described here:
- Assault and Battery
- Sometimes, elderly people are physically attacked and seriously injured by their caregivers. As they are less strong and more easily injured than younger people, this form of elder abuse can have long-term consequences, including death.
- Unreasonable Physical Restraint
- While it may be necessary at times to restrain an elderly person who refuses to cooperate with necessary medical care, this practice should be employed extremely judiciously and can easily be abused. Rough physical restraint can cause injury and even permanent disability.
- Prolonged or Continual Deprivation of Food or Water
- Whether done out of neglect or malice, the shock to the body caused by this type of elder abuse can be cruel and deadly.
- Improper Administration of Medication or Chemical Substances
- rofessional caregivers often are entrusted with the administration of medication to the elderly people in their charge. At times this task is performed improperly, against the directions of the prescribing physician, with the goal of “punishing” the patient or quieting protests against other kinds of abuse. Other chemicals and illegal drugs are also sometimes used in this capacity.
- Sexual Abuse
- Some cases have been known of caregivers using their charges for nonconsensual sexual gratification. This type of elder abuse is especially abhorrent and can include any kind of sexual act.
- Financial Exploitation
- The elderly, who are not always able to distinguish sincere intentions from disingenuous ones, are prone to financial exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous caregivers. Retirement funds and other accounts may be depleted very quickly if steps are not taken to stop this abuse.
If you have a loved one living under the supervision of professional caregivers and suspect some type of mistreatment, please contact respected elder abuse attorney Sean M. Burke, serving Orange County, Los Angeles, and beyond.
Signs Of Elder Abuse
Just as the forms of elder abuse are varied, so too are the signs that accompany it. Physical abuse may be heralded by unexplained bruises or sprains, broken eyeglasses, or bone fractures. Unreasonable restraint often leaves rope burns or other marks placed symmetrically on both sides of the body. If the elderly person experiences sudden, drastic weight loss or extreme hunger, the caregivers may be neglecting to provide him or her with enough food and water. Improper medication is difficult to detect without witnessing the effects personally, but lab tests can be used to check for chemical misuse in some cases. Injuries to the genitals, anus, or mouth often accompany sexual abuse. Lastly, financial exploitation is often present when the elderly person has been adding new people to accounts, writing checks to strange parties, making odd withdrawals, or making financial transactions that are inconsistent the person's abilities, habits, and schedule.
Some general symptoms can occur in the presence of any type of elder abuse. If the elderly person exhibits a sudden change in behavior and attitude, it may indicate that abuse has caused him or her to become stressed or afraid of outside contact. Extremely commanding and controlling caregivers, who sometimes restrict access to the elderly person or begin handling all communication, are often engaged in some form of ongoing abuse. Most importantly, if an elderly person ever tells you of any inappropriate incidents or abusive behavior, seek help immediately. If you have seen any of these signs in an elderly person you love, please do not hesitate to contact Sean M. Burke, one of the finest elder abuse attorneys in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area.
Special Laws Concerning Elder Abuse
By California law, elder abuse is defined as the perpetration of any of the above acts on a person aged 65 years or older. Because of the horrible consequences and frequency of this crime, strong civil penalties have been written into the law that allow for greater damage awards in the case of successful claims. Both the victim of elder abuse and the victim's family have the right to bring suit against the offending parties. Damages are available for economic loss, pain and suffering, and punitive considerations. Unlike a normal wrongful death case, should the victim die as a result of the abuse, damages for the decedent's pain and suffering may still be awarded up to a cap of $250,000. To begin the process of seeking justice for the wrong done to your elderly loved one, schedule a free consultation with elder abuse lawyer Sean M. Burke at his Orange County office in Newport Beach, serving Los Angeles and beyond.