Recently in Reporting Elder Abuse Category

New Bill Aims To Ensure Nursing Home Owners with Poor Track Record Face Stricter Guidelines; Demands Transparency Regarding Ownership of Nursing Homes

March 5, 2015

Nursing home building.jpg Under a new bill proposed by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, the state of California would be required to establish tighter "suitability requirements" for nursing home owners, with the goal of preventing those who have a history of poor performance from acquiring additional nursing homes.

Furthermore, under Assembly Bill 927, the Department of Public Health would also be required to make it easier for the public to ascertain who exactly owns particular nursing homes throughout the state. The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform has called for greater transparency for years, so those contemplating placing a loved one in a California nursing home are able to easily determine who owns the nursing home they are considering.

According to a multi-part series on California nursing homes as reported by the Sacramento Bee:

"California has more nursing homes than any other state, and one of the country's highest percentages of facilities owned by for-profit interests. Yet, as more private investment groups acquire skilled-nursing facilities, and ownership structures grow ever more layered and complex, the department has not kept pace with industry changes to help consumers evaluate chains - or even to identify the principals behind them."

The Sacramento Bee's lengthy investigation into ownership of California nursing homes, also revealed disturbing statistics, including:

*One nursing home chain operating in California racked up abuse complaints last year at a pace seven times the statewide rate.
*A large competitor placed one in every 15 of its long-term residents in restraints.
*Still another corporate giant whose nursing homes dominate the Sacramento region experienced high nursing staff turnover at 90 percent of its facilities.

Read more about the Sacramento Bee's investigation here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/nursing-homes/article11316812.html#storylink=cpy

All elders in California nursing homes have the right to quality care and attention. If those rights are denied, abuse must be reported. For tips on reporting suspected neglect and/or elder abuse in a California nursing home, the Justice Department has a helpful citizen's guide that can be found at the following website: http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf

Continue reading "New Bill Aims To Ensure Nursing Home Owners with Poor Track Record Face Stricter Guidelines; Demands Transparency Regarding Ownership of Nursing Homes " »

New Report On Elder Financial Abuse Shows Shocking Statistics

February 27, 2015

A new report, released by True Link Financial, a financial services firm based in San Francisco has revealed that seniors lose $36.48 Billion each year due to financial elder abuse.

According to the report:

"The fraud research community has long suspected that lossmoney 3.jpges due to elder financial abuse were worse than the $2.9 billion previously estimated. True Link's data science team, looking for clarity and an accurate assessment of the problem, decided to tackle this question head-on.

The results of this research, The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015, reveals that seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse - more than twelve times what was previously reported. What's more, the highest proportion of these losses--to the tune of $16.99 billion a year--comes from deceptive, but technically legal, tactics designed to specifically take advantage of older Americans."

This eye-opening report also provided key findings including:

• Small losses are evidence of an underlying vulnerability: A senior who lost as little as $20 in a year to exploitation could be expected to lose $2,000 a year to other types of fraud.

• A person who receives just one telemarketing phone call per day is likely to experience three times as much financial loss as someone who receives no or only occasional telemarketing calls.

• It is estimated that 954,000 seniors are currently skipping meals as a result of financial abuse.

Moreover, the report broke down the abuse into categories and found that:

$16.99 billion is lost annually to financial exploitation, defined as when misleading or confusing language is used--often combined with social pressure and strategies that take advantage of cognitive decline and memory loss--to obtain a senior's consent to take his or her money.

$12.76 billion is lost annually through criminal fraud, which included explicitly illegal activity, such as the grandparent scam, the Nigerian prince scam, or identity theft.

$6.67 billion is lost annually to caregiver fraud, defined as deceit or theft enabled by a trusting relationship--typically a family member but sometimes a paid helper, friend, lawyer, accountant, or financial manager.

Click here to read the entire report, or click here to read the Executive Summary of True Link Financial's 2015 Elder Financial Abuse.

Financial abuse of an elder is a crime in California. If you believe an elder you know has been victim of financial abuse, report any suspicion of abuse to the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-677-1116. In California, reports can also be made to the local county Adult Protective Services Agency or to local law enforcement.

Continue reading "New Report On Elder Financial Abuse Shows Shocking Statistics" »

Poor Nutrition: A Form of Elder Neglect in California

February 19, 2015

senior-couple-eating.jpgNursing homes in California have a responsibility to prevent malnutrition in resident elders, per the California Department of Public Health. In fact, failure by nursing home staff to monitor residents during mealtime, and/or failure to provide nutritious meals is a form of neglect.
Symptoms that an elder residing in a California nursing home may be suffering from malnutrition include:

*Weight loss
*Lack of Energy
*Slow recovery or healing from injuries or wounds

Elders may not receive proper nutrition for a variety of reasons including, a dislike of the food being served, improper temperature of food being served, difficulty in chewing due to oral or dental problems or pain, difficulty in swallowing, being forced to eat alone, or at a time when other residents aren't eating. Elders suffering from anxiety, dementia, and depression may also reject meals, which can lead in time to malnutrition.

However, elders suffering from any of these conditions may be suffering from them due to neglect. For example, it is the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure that a resident elder does not have dental issues, or oral pain. Similarly, if an elder residing in a California nursing home is not getting the nutrition they need, because the food is bland, or cold, it is the responsibility of the nursing home to take steps to make the food taste better, by adding seasonings, serving the food at proper temperatures, or offering alternative meals.

As a resident of a California nursing home, elders are granted certain rights when it comes to their meals, and any nursing home who overlooks these steps may be found guilty of neglect. Neglect is a form of elder abuse and may be a civil or criminal offense in California. If you suspect that an elder you love is being neglected in any manner while residing in a California nursing home, report it to your local long-term care ombudsman. You may also want to contact an experienced, elder abuse attorney to discuss your concerns.

Continue reading "Poor Nutrition: A Form of Elder Neglect in California" »

Diabetic Care of Elders in California Nursing Homes

February 5, 2015

diabetes elder.jpgElders are far more likely to suffer from diabetes than other age groups. It is estimated that 20% of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 have diabetes. That percentage climbs to 40% in adults over the age of 80. Needless to say, proper care of elders with diabetes in nursing homes is vital.

When elders with diabetes are not properly cared for, the side effects may be life threatening. For example, elders who have diabetes are at greater risk for mental and physical disabilities. They are also at greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke, all which may lead to premature death. Unfortunately, elders diagnosed with diabetes are also typically at an increased risk for depression, reduced mental functioning, and ongoing pain, all of which may lead to dangerous falls or injuries.

Nursing homes are responsible for ensuring that elders diagnosed with diabetes receive their proper medication, at the designated times. This may include insulin shots or oral medications. Nursing homes are also responsible for providing adequate nutrition, and/or restricting the diets of elder diabetics in order to ensure the maintenance of safe blood sugar levels. Furthermore, the nursing home staff are required to monitor the blood sugar levels of elders in their care through weekly or daily monitoring.

The failure of nursing home staff to properly care for elders with diabetes, including monitoring meals, and checking blood sugar levels constitutes neglect, a form of elder abuse. If you believe that a loved diabetic elder is being neglected while in the care of a California nursing home, you should consider contacting the Long-Term Care Ombudsman 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline: (800) 231-4024; Adult Protective Services; and/or your local Department of Public Health Licensing Office.

Remember that all elders in California nursing homes have the right to quality care and attention, regardless of their age or health. If those rights are denied, abuse must be reported. For additional tips on reporting suspected neglect and/or abuse in a California nursing home, the Justice Department has a helpful citizen's guide that can be found at the following website: http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf

Continue reading "Diabetic Care of Elders in California Nursing Homes" »

Choosing a Caregiver for an Elder in 2015? Proceed with Caution

January 28, 2015

caregiver.jpegIf an elder in your life needs assistance from a caregiver this year, it's important that you proceed with caution when choosing the best person to care for your loved one. Elder abuse comes in many forms including neglect, physical, financial, and sexual abuse. Within these different types of abuse, there are numerous ways that elders are victimized. While there are countless caring, qualified caregivers, there are also a lot of opportunists and criminals who would love to take advantage of an elder's trust.


Here are three tips to help you select the best caregiver for your loved elder:

1. Do NOT Hire Someone from an Ad
It is highly advisable that you hire a caregiver through a reputable agency rather than from an ad online or in the paper. Agencies such as San Diego Care Giver www.sdcaregiver.com may be a better place to begin your search for the caregiver of a senior in Southern California, rather than online at sites such as Craigslist.

2. Ask to See Background Checks an Agency has Run for You
There are no requirements for mandatory background checks of potential caregivers in California. However, most agencies will run them. It's always in your best interest to ask to see the background check to ensure they have been run, and what they yield, so you can be confident that you've done your best to select a safe and trustworthy caregiver.

3. Be Vigilant about References
It's never a good idea to solely rely on references given to you by a potential caregiver. It may sound extreme, but since this person will be trusted with a loved elder - who may be vulnerable to victimization - it is worth considering hiring a private investigator to do some background research on any potential caregiver candidate. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

Even if you've been incredibly diligent about hiring a caregiver, it's always advisable to take an inventory of valuable items before allowing someone into the home of an elder. Before a new caregiver begins work, photograph or film all valuable items. It is also worth the money to invest in a small safe or, at the very least, have a locked drawer that the caregiver cannot access.

Choosing a caregiver for a loved elder can be a daunting task, but it is smart to put as much time into the search as necessary to ensure your loved senior doesn't become the victim of elder abuse.

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Preventing Financial Elder Abuse in California: Keep an Eye on Credit

January 22, 2015

Financial abuse of elders is an unfortunate reality. In fact, elders are often specifically targeted by criminals looking to commit fraud and identity theft. There are many ways to prevent fraud and identity theft. It is important for elders, or their loved ones, to monitor their credit, and regularly review account statements to try to prevent or stop financial abuse.

All Californians are entitled to one free credit report per year credit-report-info.jpg from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. To get your free annual credit report visit www.annualcreditreport.com. This federal government approved website will enable you to pull your credit, or the credit of a loved senior, and receive a full report once each year.

While one free credit search is made available each year, elders would be smart to check their credit 2 or 3 times per year. Credit reports typically cost less than $20, and provide invaluable peace of mind by confirming that unauthorized accounts have not been opened, nor have illegitimate items been charged.

In addition to obtaining regular credit reports, it's a good idea to have duplicate copies of monthly account statements sent not only to the elder, but to their trusted Financial Advisor, attorney, CPA, or a trusted family member. This will provide additional confirmation that all charges appear accurate, nobody has acquired the account number, and it is not being used without the consent of the elder.

Warning signs of fraud on bank statements may include:

*Withdrawals from outside of the elder's primary area residence;

*Repeated withdrawals, particularly if the elder spends most of their time at home; and

*Checks written to unusual or unfamiliar people, organizations, or stores.

Keeping an eye on credit is important for Californians of all ages. However, it is especially important to monitor credit statements and account balances for elders who may have declining mental capacities, or medical conditions such as dementia that put them at greater risk for becoming a victim of financial elder abuse.

If you suspect, or confirm that your loved elder is the victim of financial abuse in California there are certain steps you should take. You may report any suspicion of abuse to the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-677-1116. In California, reports can be made to the local county Adult Protective Services Agency or to local law enforcement.

Continue reading "Preventing Financial Elder Abuse in California: Keep an Eye on Credit " »

Preventing Financial Elder Abuse: Tips For Securing Sensitive Information

January 8, 2015

There are plenty of opportunists (read: criminals) looking for ways to obtain the sensitive, personal information of seniors. From digging through trash, to stealing from mailboxes, identity theft is alive and well in 2015. Many criminals specifically seek out the information of California seniors, who may be more vulnerable to having their identity stolen.

While there is no foolproof way to guarantee that your private information (date of birth, bank account numbers, social security number, etc.) won't fall into the hands of someone with bad intentions, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you or an elder you love will fall prey to identity theft.

1. Shred Everything
All homes should have a paper shredder. Any documents mailbox 2.jpg with identifying information should be shredded after they are no longer needed. This includes bank statements, loan statements, mortgage statements, credit card bills, health/medical records, and any other documents which provide personal identifiers.

2. Consider Renting A Post Office Box
Unsecured mail is targeted by identity thieves frequently. Mailboxes which are unattended and unlocked can provide a treasure trove of identifying information for thieves. Similarly, outgoing mail should never sit in an unsecured mailbox. If you or a loved elder has an unsecured mailbox, it is worth considering renting a Post Office box, and sending all mail out from the post office.

3. Request To Pick Up New Checks At The Bank
New sets of checks are easily identifiable, and thieves would love to get their hands on them. If you do not have a secured mailed box or post office box, check with your bank about picking up your checks directly from the bank, rather than leaving them to chance in your mailbox.

In California, financial elder abuse is defined in Welfare and Institutions Code §15610.30. The code states: "Financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity... takes, secrets, appropriates, obtains, or retains [or assists in doing any of these] real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful purpose or with intent to defraud or both."

Far too many elders in California become the victims of financial abuse each year. In order to prevent your loved elder from facing a headache of credit and legal problems, do your best to ensure that all of their identifying paperwork is secure in the mail, and that all documents with sensitive information are promptly shredded.

If you suspect, or confirm, that your loved elder is the victim of financial abuse in California there are certain steps you can take. You may report any suspicion of abuse to the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-677-1116. In California, reports can also be made to the local county Adult Protective Services Agency or to local law enforcement.

Continue reading "Preventing Financial Elder Abuse: Tips For Securing Sensitive Information" »

Studies Show Female Elders More Likely To Be Abused

December 2, 2014

Nearly 70% of elder abuse victims are women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is worth noting that the population of elder women is much larger than the population of elderly men in the United States, however, that does not make these alarming statistics any less disturbing.
Why are women the victims of elder abuse more often than men? There are a few reasons most experts tend to agree upon.

Elder-Abuse-Victim-.jpg1. Elderly females may be seen as easier targets for physical, financial, emotional, or even sexual abuse.
2. Women tend to live longer than men, and many live alone putting them in a position where they may be more likely to be abused.
3. Women tend to develop crippling physical diseases such as osteoporosis, which may take a long time to recover from.

Statistics conclusively show that elders who are disabled are far more likely to be abused than those who are not. As a matter of fact, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging:

"Institutionalized adult women with disabilities reported a 33% prevalence of having ever experienced interpersonal violence (IPV) versus 21% for institutionalized adult women without disabilities...when considering lifetime abuse by any perpetrator, a sample of 200 adult women with disabilities indicated that 67% had experienced physical abuse and 53% had experienced sexual abuse."

Elderly women are far more likely to be sexually abused than men. Reports in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect found that elderly women were six times more likely to be sexually abused than elderly men. Sexual abuse of elderly women occurs most often in nursing homes, or other assisted living facilities.

If you suspect that an elder --whether male or female--is being abused, it is vital to report your concerns immediately. Under California law elder abuse can be both a criminal and civil offense. The state of California has taken a firm stance and zero tolerance policy towards elder abuse in any capacity. As part of their mission to encourage all Californians to report suspected elder abuse, the state has created The Citizen's Guide To Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

If you believe an elder you know is being abused in any capacity while residing in a California nursing home, report it to the following agencies immediately:

• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040.
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024.
• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660.

Continue reading "Studies Show Female Elders More Likely To Be Abused" »

When a Loved Elder Has Died: Proving Elder Abuse in Southern California

November 18, 2014

In California, the family of an elder who has passed away due to nursing home neglect or abuse has the right to file a lawsuit against the perpetrators seeking damages for the pain and suffering the elder was subjected to, and the wrongful death caused by the neglect.

To prove that an elder died in a California nursing home due to neglect, experienced California elder abuse attorneys will help you complete a thorough investigation to determine whether the evidence supports the necessary elements to prove the defendant failures caused the death. The following include some of the criteria that will be analyzed:gavel and money.jpeg

1. Supplying the necessaries of nutrition, hydration, hygiene or medical care for an elder or dependent adult;
2. Being aware of conditions that made the elder unable to supply him/herself with those necessities;
3. Denying or withholding the goods and services required to supply those necessities; and
4. Either knowing or being substantially certain the deprivation would cause injury or with a conscious disregard of the probability that the deprivation would cause injury.

Lastly, the plaintiff has to prove as a result of the failures/deprivation, the elder or dependent adult suffered either physical pain or mental anguish. Under the Elder Abuse Act, if a California plaintiff can prove the abuse/neglect was done with "recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice," the plaintiff may be entitled to additional remedies. However, the plaintiff has to meet its burden of proof by "clear and convincing evidence" which is the highest standard of proof in the civil context.

Continue reading "When a Loved Elder Has Died: Proving Elder Abuse in Southern California " »

Why Are Elders So Susceptible To Bed Sores?

November 7, 2014

Southern California elders - particularly those residing in nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities - are unfortunately prone to developing life-threatening bedsores. Bedsores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, can lead to a host of health problems, particularly in elders whose health may already be compromised. Similarly, because many elders may be confined to a bed or wheelchair, their risk for developing these sores is increased.

According to the Mayo Clinic:elderlyWomanInBed.jpg
People are at risk of developing pressure sores if they have difficulty moving and are unable to easily change position while seated or in bed. Immobility may be due to:

• Generally poor health or weakness
• Paralysis
• Injury or illness that requires bed rest or wheelchair use
• Recovery after surgery
• Sedation
• Coma

However, more specific risk factors affecting elders which make them so susceptible to bedsores may include advanced age, which results in thinner, drier, less elastic skin, which is generally more fragile. Elders may also develop bedsores after significant weight loss, which can accompany a long-term illness. Poor nutrition and/or dehydration also make elders susceptible to developing dangerous bedsores. Illnesses such as diabetes, and vascular diseases may also lead to damaged skin tissue, making it easier for a bedsore to develop. Likewise, elders who suffer from bowel or bladder incontinence are also likely to develop bedsores if soiled clothing isn't removed and replaced immediately.

Similarly, elders who are in a state of mental decline are typically more likely to develop dangerous bedsores. Those who have limited mental alertness may be unaware that sores are developing, leading them to progress into dangerous infections before being discovered. By the same token, any elder who has diminished sensory perception, such as those who are paralyzed, may also not discover bedsores until they have reached a dangerous stage.

The key to prevention (and treatment) of bedsores is to relieve pressure. This can be accomplished most effectively by repositioning an elder regularly, particularly once a bedsore has developed.

For elders residing in a Southern California nursing home, inspection of the skin should be a routine part of care. Unfortunately, all too often patients suffer from bedsores due to neglect or lack of an appropriate care plan implemented in the California nursing home. If you have found a bedsore on an elder you know, a doctor needs to be notified immediately. Bedsores can often be resolved with appropriate detection and treatment.

While many long-term care facilities in California provide excellent care, others subject their patients to many forms of neglect or elder abuse. The California Welfare & Institutions Code §15610.57, addresses "neglect" in part by stating it is "the negligent failure to exercise the degree of care a reasonable person would have exercised had they had the care and custody of an elderly person." This would include the failure to protect that elder from dehydration, bedsores, falls, other injuries caused by safety or health hazards and any type of injury that does not fit the explanation provided by the staff.

Continue reading "Why Are Elders So Susceptible To Bed Sores?" »

Health Changes in Elders Residing in California Nursing Homes

October 31, 2014

By law, the staff members employed by California nursing homes are required to report health changes observed in the elders residing in their facilities. Unfortunately, all too often these changes are unreported. The change in condition of a resident may not be reported for a variety of reasons, including fear that the nursing home be may fined for understaffing, or neglecting California elders residing within the facility. In other cases, a resident who has experienced a rapid deterioration in condition, may indicate that isolation, neglect, or even abuse is occurring within a facility.

Failure to report changes in condition to an elder's doctor and family members is a violation of the law.
old woman.jpg Changes in an elder's condition which must be reported may include, but is not limited to:
• Cracked lips, or sores in and around the mouth
• Noticeably dry skin
• Eyes which appear sunken in
• Disorientation/Confusion
• Fever and/or thirst
• Rapid weight loss
• Bed sores
• Broken bones

Elders residing within California nursing homes are granted certain rights. If they are violated, resulting in a change of condition, a crime may have been committed. It is important that all staff working in nursing homes in California report these changes in the condition of elderly residents in order to prevent serious health problems, injury, or even death to residents.

If you notice changes in the condition of your loved one while residing in a nursing home in California, report your concerns immediately. In Southern California and San Diego, you may consider reporting your suspicions to:

• Your loved one's doctor.
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024.
• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660, or the Eldercare Locator help line at 1-800-677-1116.
• Your Department of Public Health Licensing Office.
• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040.

All elders in California nursing homes have the right to quality care and attention, regardless of their age or health. If those rights are denied, abuse must be reported. For tips on reporting suspected neglect and/or abuse in a California nursing home, the Justice Department has a helpful citizen's guide that can be found at the following website: http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf

Continue reading "Health Changes in Elders Residing in California Nursing Homes" »

Elder Isolation: An Overview

October 13, 2014

Isolation is a form of Elder Abuse in California, per California Penal Code §15610.43. Elder abuse is a violation of the rights of elders by those charged with caring for them in facilities, such as California nursing homes. California nursing homes are required to provide reasonable care, and any intent to do otherwise constitutes a criminal action.
locked door 2.jpg

Elder Isolation may include:

*Any intentional actions, which prevent an elder resident from making or receiving phone calls, or having contact with family and friends outside of their residential, nursing facility.
*Any intentional actions which prevent the elder resident from speaking with their physicians, their attorneys, law enforcement or even members of their religious organization.
*Actions such as placing an elder in a locked room, or restraining them in another capacity without their consent.
*Confinement of an elder (which can also be deemed false imprisonment).

Elders are often isolated by nursing home staff as a way of dominating and/or instilling fear in the elder resident. The consequences that the elder may experience as the result can be traumatic. Elders who have been isolated often experience depression, anxiety, stress, and fear. In the worst cases, the lasting effects of isolation may result in suicide or death.
If you suspect that a loved elder may be experiencing intentional acts of isolation while in a his or her nursing home, speak up. Often elders who are being victimized in any way feel helpless to do anything about the abuse, for fear of repercussions.

If you suspect an elder you know is being abused in any capacity while residing in a California nursing home, report it to the following agencies immediately:
• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024
• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660.

Continue reading "Elder Isolation: An Overview" »

Learning To Spot Warning Signs of Financial Abuse of Elders

September 3, 2014

In California, financial elder abuse is defined in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.30. The code states: "Financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity... takes, secrets, appropriates, obtains, or retains [or assists in doing any of these] real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful purpose or with intent to defraud or both."

Although financial abuse is far too prevalent, the best defense against opportunists who would seek to defraud elders out of their money, property or belongings, is preventing the abuse in the first place. Although there is no surefire way to ensure that your loved one's finances are protected at all times, there are warning signs to look for, which can indicate that financial abuse is taking place.

In an effort to best protect a loved elder from financial abuse including a loss of their property, assets or money, be on the lookout for these warning signs that a caregiver, a family member or even a staff member at a California nursing home is victimizing elders:

*Missing items (jewelry, appliances)
*Unpaid or past due bills
*Excessive credit card charges
*Unusual bank activity (large withdrawals or checks)
*New credit cards opened in the elder's name
*Changes to trusts, estates, wills
*Unusual investments in ventures, real estate, businesses
*Bulk sales of stocks
*Unusual charitable contributions or gifts to unknown people/organizations
*Large purchases (property, cars, electronics)

One of the best means of ascertaining that a loved one and their finances are safe is through frequent contact with the elder. Simply by calling and/or visiting them you can often pick up on cues as to their overall wellbeing. Volunteering to help them once or twice a month with their finances, including paying bills will also give you a good picture of their financial health at all times. Furthermore, take advantage of the opportunity to help your loved elder obtain their free annual credit report, and review it with them to make sure that all records are correct. Paying attention to the relationships your loved elder has with others will also help to illuminate any potential opportunists in their lives.

If you suspect, or confirm that your loved elder is the victim of financial abuse in California there are certain steps you should take. In California, reports can be made to the local county Adult Protective Services Agency or to local law enforcement.


Continue reading "Learning To Spot Warning Signs of Financial Abuse of Elders " »

Be Aware: Fake IRS Phone Scam Still Targeting Elders

July 28, 2014

Opportunists continue to seek occasions to defraud elders out of money, and one of the many ways they continue to try to do it is through phone scams. In fact, according to the National Consumers League nearly 1/3 of phone fraud victims are over the age of 60. In recent months one of the newest scams involves a caller claiming to be from the IRS.

The scam works like this:

A caller impersonating an IRS employee will call and notify the resident that they owe a substantial amount of money in back taxes. They often then threaten the victim with an arrest warrant, or seizure of property if they do not pay the taxes immediately, via a pre-paid debit card, bringing a check to a particular location, wiring the money, or paying through PayPal. They often state from the start that the "debt" cannot be paid with a credit card.

This scam is not new, but it has defrauded victims out of more than $1,000,000 to date. The IRS and the Federal Trade Commission are both aware of the scam, and want you to keep the following in mind, if you get a call from anyone claiming to be from the IRS:

*The IRS will almost always contact you by mail, not by phone.
*The IRS will never threaten you with seizing your property or issuing an arrest warrant.
*The IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will they insist that you pay using some specific, or peculiar method.

If a caller claiming to be from the IRS has scammed you, you should file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (800-366-4484) and with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Include the words "IRS Telephone Scam" in your complaint.

There are plenty of people who make a living at the expense of others, and you definitely don't want to become a victim. If you would prefer to be removed from all phone sales lists, you can request to be put on the "Do Not Call" list, by registering at www.donotcall.gov.

Continue reading "Be Aware: Fake IRS Phone Scam Still Targeting Elders" »

Understaffing in California Nursing Homes Continues To Prove Dangerous

July 13, 2014

Understaffing nursing homes is incredibly dangerous to adults over 65 residing in long-term care facilities such as Southern California nursing homes. That's precisely why specific laws and regulations are in place which mandate proper staffing at long-term care facilities.

Under California law, "The facility shall employ an adequate number of qualified personnel to carry out all of the functions of the facility" Health & Safety Code § 1599.1(a). Moreover, Health & Safety Code §1276.5-1276.65 mandates that nursing homes must provide a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day.

Unfortunately, many facilities choose to ignore the California law. Even worse, the understaffing of nursing homes has been directly correlated to abuse and neglect of elders. Indeed, understaffing in California nursing homes leads to substandard care over and over again. Substandard care in nursing homes then leads to illness, injury, and too often, death.

Reports estimate that more than 90% of nursing homes in America are not adequately staffed to accomplish all caretaking tasks required by their elderly patients. In many instances, nursing homes in Southern California are so dangerously understaffed that nurses are unable to complete daily tasks such as delivering meals to their elderly residents' bedsides.

Legislation in California has been enacted to force an increase in staffing in California nursing homes. In 2004, for example, the Medi-Cal Long Term Care Reimbursement Act (AB 1629) was enacted to ensure high quality of care in nursing homes by increasing staffing and promoting compliance with State and Federal regulations.
However, studies appeared within just years of the enactment, which proved that the new reimbursement rate system did not result in significant improvement in quality. Although average staffing levels improved slightly, they remained far below the threshold of minimum staffing levels suggested by experts. Moreover, 16% of state nursing homes failed to meet the minimum staffing levels required by state law.

Six years after the law was enacted, in April 2010, other agencies published results of their independent investigations into the effects of the Act. Their findings were disappointing to say the least. Despite an influx of nearly $900 million in additional funding afforded to California nursing homes, more than 230 California nursing homes cut staff, paid lower wages, and/or allowed staffing levels to slip below the legally mandated minimum.
Understaffing in nursing homes has been linked to:

• Increase in use of physical and chemical restraints
• Increase in falls
• Overmedication
• Misuse of medication
• Malnutrition & dehydration
• Falls
• Bedsores and related infections
• Death

State and Federal law requires nursing homes to be properly staffed in order to protect the rights of all residents living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. If an elder you know is being neglected, or abused while in the care of a facility charged with caring for them, report your suspicions to Adult Protective Services, an Ombudsman and/or an elder abuse attorney immediately.

Christopher C. Walton is a peer-recognized, California elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you believe somebody you know has been a victim of elder abuse, please call (619) 233-0011 for a free and confidential consultation.