The most common form of elder abuse is financial abuse – taking advantage of an elderly person, friend or family member –exploiting them for money and or property. Physical and emotional abuse can occur as well, sometimes to a point where a family member or caregiver takes control over a vulnerable older adult.
At times the seniors themselves are guilty of self-neglect, sometimes the point of putting themselves at risk of harm due to a mental health issue or decline in cognitive function. You may notice they are losing their ability to manage their day to day activities like paying bills, shopping, cooking or even lack in good personal hygiene practices. Perhaps they no longer seek medical care or stop taking vital medications. All of these examples are of course concerning, and if you suspect abuse or neglect you may make a formal report so the appropriate agency can investigate and advocate for the senior or dependent adult.
What is the legal definition of Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse?
Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult is abuse of:
- Someone 65 years old or older; or
- A dependent adult, who is someone between 18 and 64 that has certain mental or physical disabilities that keep him or her from being able to do normal activities or protect himself or herself.
The law says elder or dependent adult abuse is:
- Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction (taking the person out of the state against his or her will), or other behavior that causes physical harm, pain, or mental suffering; OR
- Deprivation by a caregiver of things or services that the elder or dependent adult needs to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
Elder Abuse Reporting - Who to call
Investigating allegations of abuse is the responsibility of either Adult Protective Services (APS), for those that live in the community or the Long Term Care Ombudsman program for those that reside in Residential Care /Assisted Living or a Skilled Nursing Facility. In some cases they will also involve the local police.
What is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program?
Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities and similar adult care facilities. They work with facility administration and families to resolve problems / complaints of individual residents. Many Ombudsman are volunteers that undergo extensive training to become certified. The Stanislaus County Ombudsman program is provided by Catholic Charities Modesto office.
To make an APS report, please call the 24 hour reporting line at 1-800-336-4316 or