Under California law, abusing an elder, someone who is 65 years of age or older, can result in both criminal charges and a civil action. Additionally, there are requirements for those providing care to the elderly that caregivers should know.
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Elder abuse is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse is also referred to as either elder mistreatment or senior abuse.
Elder abuse can result in criminal charges when a person violates the law by either stealing from an elderly person, forging an elderly person’s name, or committing fraud using the elderly person’s name or property. Punishment can include fines and imprisonment.
Elder abuse can result in a civil action when a person takes or obtains property owned by an elder person for wrongful use or to defraud. The elder or their representative will recover lost funds or property by the filing of a lawsuit.
Typical Actions Indicating Elder Abuse
- Withdrawals from an elder’s bank account.
- Signing checks using an elderly person’s name.
- Entering into contracts on behalf of an elderly person.
- Receiving expensive from an elderly person.
- Credit card purchases for items or services received by another person.
- Contributions to religious or non-profit causes.
- Investments made on behalf of an elderly person in time shares, real property, annuities or financial products.
- Large loans against an elderly person’s equity in real property to finance investments.
Possible Documents Indicating Elder Abuse
- Power of attorney given by to another when an elderly person lacks mental capacity.
- A will being made when the elder is not mentally competent.
- An elder removing their name from property titles.
- The adding of a caretaker’s name to real property or money accounts in exchange for commitments of continued care and or affection.
Life-Style Indicators of Elder Abuse
- Lack of amenities, such as personal grooming items or appropriate clothing, that the elder can afford.
- Under-deployment of the elder’s existing resources that should be spent on housing or personal care.
- Missing cash, jewelry and personal belongings.
Personal Relationships Indicating Elder Abuse
- Unusual interest by a family member to conserve money being spent on the care of the elder.
- Reluctance or refusal by a caregiver to spend money on the elder’s care.
- Recent acquaintances or long-lost relatives expressing affection for a wealthy elder.
- A caretaker taking an inappropriate level of interest in the elder’s financial matters.
Failure to Report Elder Abuse
Failure to report, impeding or inhibiting a report of, physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder is a misdemeanor.
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