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What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

by Jordan Maurer

Sadly, elder abuse victims often remain silent after being abused for fear of retaliation. It is often up to the family or friends of the victim to detect the signs of abuse. The three general categories of elder abuse are (1) physical abuse, (2) emotional abuse, and (3) financial abuse.

 Signs of physical abuse

 Physical abuse results from either an intentional attack or willful neglect of the elder. Attacks include physical assault, sexual assault, and restraint – either physical or using psychotropic medications. Neglect includes failure to assist with hygiene, medications, providing medical care, or necessities such as food or water. Warning signs of physical abuse include:

 Signs of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse stems from verbal harassment, threats or intimidation. It can also stem from nonverbal acts such as isolating the elder (i.e. confinement) and withholding emotional support from friends, family or clergy. Warning signs include:

Signs of financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when someone uses undue influence to take money or property from an elder. These schemes are sometimes very simple – such as taking money right out of the elder’s purse or wallet – but can also be very complex and occur over several months or even years. Elders often have money, and perpetrators of elder abuse know this. Elders may have home equity, retirement plans, savings, or other valuable assets. Sadly, sometimes elders lack the mental capacity or physical ability to investigate “offers” they receive from perpetrators. Whether it’s telemarketers, identity thieves, predatory lenders, aggressive home improvement contractors, or even family members, sometimes the elder simply cannot tell that they are being deceived – often because these people appear professional and trustworthy and because the elder has an actual need for a good or service. Warning signs of financial abuse include:

How to report elder abuse

 If it’s an emergency, always call 911 first. If you suspect a friend or family member is being abused, you can report the case to your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman, your local law enforcement agency, your County’s Adult Protective Services (APS) agency, and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse. When the abuse occurs in a skilled nursing facility, a written complaint should be filed with the California Department of Public Health. When the abuse occurs in an assisted living facility (also called a residential care facility for the elderly – or RCFE), a written complaint should be filed with the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

LTC Ombudsman are officials appointed to investigate complaints against skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly.

Below is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman office for the greater Sacramento area (Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties):

Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Agency on Aging Area 4 1401 El Camino Avenue, 4th Floor Sacramento, CA 95815 T: 916-376-8910 F: 916-376-8914

For El Dorado County residents, contact the following:

El Dorado County LTC Ombudsman Program c/o El Dorado Area Agency on Aging 937 Spring Street Placerville, CA 95667 T: 530-621-6271 F: 530-653-2197

For other counties, please visit the California Department of Aging’s website.