California is not immune to the growing number of seniors needing care in a nursing home. Unfortunately, elders are not immune to abuse.
Families should look for these signs of elder abuse and then report them.
Common warning signs
HelpGuide.org recognizes the proliferation of elder abuse that often flies under the radar. Elder abuse can take different forms from physical abuse to financial exploitation to simple neglect. Clusters of warning signs can more readily point to abuse than a single instance.
Elders may face emotional abuse that causes them to feel pain or become distressed. Isolation, terrorization, intimidation and inattention are forms of emotional abuse. The senior may exhibit symptoms that mimic dementia without the diagnosis.
Common neglect signs include bedsores, lack of bathing, unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, malnutrition and desertion. Physical and sexual abuse often leave behind unexplained bruising, blood or restraining signs. Elders may experience broken bones, inability to see them alone without reason and failure to properly medicate.
A caregiver may inadvertently commit elder abuse due to mental and physical factors such as depression, substance abuse and their own perception. Caregivers can reduce the chance of abuse by practicing self-care, obtaining help, joining support groups and relieving burnout and stress.
Reporting elder abuse
The California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has worked to increase elder abuse accountability. Operation Guardians searches for signs of abuse that need additional investigations and perhaps prosecution. Individual employees committing physical elder abuse may face charges through the Violent Crimes Unit. The Facilities Enforcement Team rounds out the three programs and addresses neglectful policies and procedures.