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Santa Barbara Elder Abuse Attorney

Growing old is not easy. The twilight years of our life should be when we can reflect on rich memories and relax under someone else’s care. 

Unfortunately, many elders are frail and vulnerable and depend on others for primary care, and are afraid to complain because they worry about surviving outside of their current living situation. Many elders may suffer abuse in Santa Barbara in silence. 

Elder abuse can be used to describe any neglect, malpractice, or harm against an older adult. Elder abuse can take many different forms, including financial abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and nursing home neglect. If you believe that an elderly individual you know and love is being abused and neglected, your first step is to report the neglect and abuse to the proper authorities. You then want to consult with a Santa Barbara elder abuse attorney to help protect their rights. 

Elder Abuse

What Qualifies as Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is the act of creating a risk of harm to an older individual, no matter if intentional or through failure to act. An elderly person is anyone who is over 60 years of age. Abuse can be inflicted by a family member, a caregiver, or anyone in contact with the elder. 

Abusing the elderly is a prevalent and severe problem in America. We may not even have up-to-date numbers and data since many older people are unable or unwilling to report their abuse. We cannot force victims to tell others that they are continually abused by someone they depend on or love. 

Elder abuse, in all its different forms, is widespread; about one in ten elderly who live alone at home experience at least one form of elder abuse. This can include neglect, physical abuse, manipulation, and emotional abuse. 

Such abuse can have emotional and physical impacts on an older individual. It can result in scared and anxious victims who are unsure of who they can trust. If you notice physical injuries like scratches, cuts, welts, and bruises, these may be signs of physical abuse. Other victims may suffer life-long disabilities and injuries like broken bones, bedsores, head injuries, chronic pain, and even premature death.

Common types of elder abuse include:

Sexual abuse: This is forced or nonconsensual sexual interaction with an older person. This can include sexual harassment, sexual contact, and more. 

Physical abuse: This is the infliction of pain, injury, distress, or illness by intentionally using physical force like slapping, kicking, shoving, punching, or burning.

Psychological or emotional abuse: Any act that inflicts anxiety, mental pain, fear, and other adverse reactions in an older adult is a form of abuse. For example, humiliating and yelling at a patient. Other examples include threats, disrespect, intentionally isolating the person, and other harassment.

Neglect: Failure to provide a standard of care that meets an older adult’s basic needs like water, food, bedding, clothing, hygiene, medical care, and more. 

Financial abuse: This is taking advantage of an elderly individual by improperly or illegally using their money, belongings, benefits, property, or assets for personal use. This can include changing the name on their deed, adding someone else to their bank accounts, and more.

Conservator fraud: This is unlawfully taking advantage of conservatorship to steal or misuse an elder’s real estate or bank accounts.

Trust or will fraud: Pressuring or lying to a confused elder to inherit most or all of their assets.

Your Santa Barbara elder neglect attorney can help you determine if your loved one has suffered from one or multiple types of abuse. 

What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?

If your loved one is in a nursing home, you want to feel assured knowing they are getting kind, gentle, compassionate, professional medical attention and care. You never want your family member or loved one to feel pain, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. 

If you notice any of the following in an elder, you may be seeing common signs of nursing home neglect:

  • Broken bones from falling
  • Bedsores
  • Sudden weight loss or malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent accidents and injuries
  • Instances of the elder wandering away from the facility without anyone realizing
  • Bruises
  • Heatstroke
  • Apparent signs of lack of supervision
  • Not taking medication
  • Signs of being roughly handled

While physical abuse can be immediately apparent, other types of abuse can be easier to hide. If you are close to the older person, you may notice odd or unusual behavior or a shut down in communication. Pay attention to your loved one and take note of how other patients are being treated. 

Can You Sue for Elder Abuse?

Anyone who wants to sue for elder abuse must have legal standing, meaning they must be a party of interest. Examples of people with legal standing include:

  • The elderly victim
  • Family members with a power of attorney
  • Heirs to the estate
  • Family members who have evidence of elder abuse
  • Conservators 
  • The spouse of the victim

Multiple plaintiffs can sue for elder abuse. For example, a spouse may file for a loss of consortium because of the loss of care and comfort from the injured plaintiff; the plaintiff can file a physical abuse lawsuit for injuries they suffered. 

If the elderly plaintiff has passed away, the following relations can file a lawsuit for elder abuse:

  • The next in line or heir
  • Anyone named an interested person
  • A family member or guardian

You can file a lawsuit to recoup funeral expenses, loss of companionship, loss of finance, and pain and suffering. 

How Can an Elder Abuse Attorney Help?

If you suspect your loved one has suffered from elder abuse, contact an elder abuse lawyer in Santa Barbara immediately. We can help you file a claim against the abusers. 

When you hear of elder abuse stories, there are several types of abuse that come to mind. First and foremost is physical abuse because elderly patients are the most vulnerable and frail members of our society. They likely are unable to defend themselves. 

Caregivers or nursing home staff may neglect or hurt them or inflict psychological or emotional distress on them. Financial abuse is another common way to take advantage of an elderly individual, especially if their mental faculties are in decline. 

To determine whether you have a valid elder abuse claim, you should immediately contact a Santa Barbara elder abuse lawyer to discuss your case. Call personal injury lawyers at Maho Prentice, LLP today.