It’s difficult for most of us to imagine abusing a senior citizen, but the sad truth is that many of our most vulnerable elders are abused every day. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), as many as one in ten Americans over age sixty have been the victims of some form of elder abuse; as many as five million elders might be abused in any given year. Preventing abuse is extremely important, but it’s also important to help in the recovery after abuse has happened.
Elder Abuse Has Many Victims
When an elder is abused they can suffer in many ways. Abuse might take the form of psychological bullying or terrorizing, or it might be actual physical abuse—or even sexual abuse. Financial abuse of our seniors has also seen a dramatic rise in recent years.
But an abused elder is not the only victim. When an elder is abused, his or her family and friends often suffer as well, experiencing feelings of guilt or shame, even if they were not to blame. Caregivers might suffer in the same way and might also be harmed financially if they are held accountable, such as if a rogue or negligent employee caused the harm, leading to fines and legal judgments against them.
Recovering from Abuse
It’s difficult to put a number on the total cost of all forms of elder abuse. One analysis suggests financial abuse alone might cause as much as $36 billion in damages each year.
When an elder has been abused, whether emotionally, physically, or financially, it’s not the end of the world, regardless of how difficult the situation might be at the moment. It’s important for all of those involved to take steps toward recovery.
California’s Department of Justice has a unit dedicated to helping the victims of elder abuse and prosecuting their abusers, and you should contact them for assistance. Here are some other actions that might help a victim and those around her recover:
- File a Protection Order – If the abuse is ongoing, you may be able to get a court to issue an order to protect the elder from the abuser. Other legal actions might include a court order to remove an abuser from the home or the filing of a criminal complaint against an abuser. Any abuse, of course, past or ongoing, should be reported to the local adult protective services agency.
- File a Complaint – If financial abuse has happened, you should file a legal claim against the abuser for the amount taken. In California, if the amount is under $10,000, it can be pursued in small claims court. Above this, you should seek legal advice on how to proceed.
- Therapy Can Help – All forms of abuse (even financial) can lead to severe psychological and emotional issues. Depression, anxiety, shame, and embarrassment are common. Meeting with a counselor or therapist to discuss what happened and how to move forward can be an important part of any recovery process.
- Improve Monitoring – Caregivers and those responsible for seniors may need to become more involved, especially after an abuse incident. They should check in more frequently and be more diligent in learning what is going on around the elder. This can help in the recovery and also lower the chance that future abuse will follow.
San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyer
Elder abuse comes in many forms, and even though you do your best to protect yourself or an elder in your care, abuse might still take place. If it does, it’s important that you hold abusers accountable, both by filing criminal charges when possible and by pursuing remedies in civil court.
The Kindley Firm, APC, has experience with elder abuse law, and we’ve helped many clients reach successful settlements in cases of this kind. Call us at 619-550-1313 or contact us online through the form below to learn how we might be able to help you and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.