Psychological Abuse of Elders in California

It is believed that psychological abuse – a form of emotional abuse – is the most prevalent type of abuse facing California elders (anyone over the age of 65 in California). Unfortunately, it can be the most challenging type of abuse to identify, because it can lack clear evidence. Psychological abuse of elders may occur in conjunction with other forms of elder abuse, including financial abuse, neglect, or physical abuse, or it may occur without other forms of abuse.

depressed.jpgPsychological abuse of California elders is both common and cruel. It causes mental anguish through threats, fear, manipulation, humiliation, and other forms of punishment. It may be considered a perpetration of cruel and explicit threats, which serve to instill fear in an elder. Some examples of psychological abuse may include scolding, insulting, degrading, or harassing an elder.

However, psychological abuse can occur non-verbally as a form of neglect. This type of psychological abuse may involve the denial or delay of needs including: food, medication, clean clothing, warm shelter, or other types of basic care. Other examples of psychological abuse that elders in California have suffered at both the hands of family members, and staff at California nursing homes involves the creation of an oppressive environment through such actions as moving an elder’s eye glasses, walker, wheelchair, dentures, cane, or placing medications out of reach.

In addition to neglect, threats, and isolation of elders, psychological abuse may take the form of a caregiver interfering with an elder’s decision making, or deliberately confusing and destabilizing an elder. Any form of name-calling, yelling, belittling, isolating, blaming, or humiliating an elder also constitutes psychological abuse. This form of abuse is particularly dangerous to elders because it threatens their sense of safety and security, which can contribute to depression, or quicken other mental health issues.

If you witness psychological, emotional, or physical abuse being perpetrated upon an elder, it should be reported. You can report your concerns of elder abuse in San Diego to:

• The 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.

Christopher C. Walton was named to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer List, and also named a 2014 Top Attorney in San Diego, California. Walton Law, APC focuses its practice on nursing home abuse, elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to abuse or neglect while residing in a Southern California nursing home, contact Chris at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.