In recent posts, we’ve focused on new laws, which require that any mandated reporter report elder abuse within 48 hours. But what if you’re not a mandated reporter, but still suspect that elder abuse is occurring? The general rule of thumb is to always err on the side of caution. Unfortunately, if unreported, elder abuse often escalates, and all too often the results are tragic. If you suspect an elder you know is being abused, report it immediately. You may be saving the health, assets, or even the life of an elder who may be too afraid to report the abuse themselves.
There are numerous ways to report suspected elder abuse, and it is probably much easier than you think. Furthermore you will be protected from criminal or civil liability, so do not let the fear of retribution prevent you from ever reporting abuse.
If you suspect an elder is being abused in any capacity, while in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home; report the incident to both the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the California Department of Public Health. You should also consider reporting to Adult Protective Services Agency.
If you suspect an elder is being abused outside of a long-term care facility, such as in a private residence, contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency. The APS provides assistance to adults and elderly who are functionally impaired, and who may be victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. All APS agencies in California have a 24/7 hotline that may be called to report suspected abuse.
In San Diego County, you may also contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services 9335 Hazard Way, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123 (858) 495-5660.
Elder abuse in California can be both a criminal and civil offense. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.
If you suspect that a friend, family member, or loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to help evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed. Christopher Walton has years of experience providing caring, compassionate representation to victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.