Aging is no fun. It seems as though people get ignored and abused as they get older. Youth is glamorized, while senior citizens are often seen as inconveniences. As we get older, medical issues become more common. Sometimes, the elderly have physical or mental disabilities that can make caring for them a challenge. This can lead to abuse and neglect.
Elder abuse has increased dramatically in the past few years. Because of this, victims who are 65 years or older are given special protections. Elder abuse can occur in different ways, including physical, mental, and financial fraud. It is covered under California Penal Code Section 368 and includes various criminal offenses.
It is a criminal offense to willfully cause or allow an elderly adult to suffer unjustifiable pain.
So, even if a person does not directly abuse an elder, they could be charged with elder abuse if they knowingly allow an elder to be abused.
Physical abuse can include various injuries, such as bruises, abrasions, fractures, and burns.
Physical abuse may also include neglect, abandonment, or sexual abuse.
Elder abuse can also be emotional in nature. This includes mental suffering such as humiliation, ridicule, or isolation. There is also financial abuse, which may include stealing, embezzlement, identity theft, and fraud.
Elder abuse can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the specific circumstances and the defendant's criminal history.
Civil Rights for Seniors
Seniors have civil rights that they may not be aware of. Here’s a look at some programs and initiatives at the federal level:
Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act was voted into law in 1965. The goal is to set aside funding to support the needs of an aging population. This act has provided valuable resources for elderly adults, including free transportation services, adult day care services, and Meals on Wheels.
Elder Justice Act. The Elder Justice Act authorizes federal funds to address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It authorizes $100 million per year for Adult Protective Services to provide seniors living in long-term care facilities with greater protections. The Act also authorizes funding to support the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act was passed to establish requirements for the Department of Justice when investigating and prosecuting elder abuse crimes. The law requires data collection on elder abuse and expands the law to include telemarketing fraud since seniors are often a big target of telemarketing scams. The law states that anyone convicted of telemarketing fraud that victimizes a person over age 55 is subject to an enhanced criminal penalty.
Rights as a Nursing Home Patient
Many elderly people are abused or neglected while patients in nursing homes. When they are victimized, they need to be aware of their legal rights. Believe it or not, they have many state and federal rights afforded to them. These rights include the following:
Medical treatment. Residents have the right to be fully informed of their health status and to participate in a plan for their medical care unless they are deemed incapacitated or incompetent. They have a right to be fully informed about any changes in care or treatment. They have a right to self-administer medications as long as they can safely do so. They also have a right to choose a personal attending physician or refuse participation in experimental research.
Restraints and abuse. Residents have the right to be free from any type of abuse, including physical and mental abuse, verbal and sexual abuse, and involuntary seclusion. They have the right to be free from any physical or chemical restraints imposed as patient discipline or staff convenience. They have the right to be given the necessary information so they can refuse or accept the use of psychotherapeutic drugs and physical restraints. Also, the facility must ensure that each resident’s regimen is free from unnecessary drugs.
Patient records. Residents have the right to personal privacy and confidentiality of their medical records. They have the right to review all records pertaining to them upon oral or written request within 24 hours.
Privacy. Patients have the right to privacy during treatment and personal care. They have the right to make and receive phone calls in private and send and receive mail unopened. They can also associate with people of their choice, inside or outside the facility.
Free choice. Residents have the right to choose activities and schedules consistent with their interests. They have the right to participate in social and religious activities and community groups. They also have the right to use personal clothing and possessions as space permits.
Financial affairs. Residents have the right to manage their own financial affairs, and residents shall not be required to deposit their personal funds with the nursing home facility. If they choose to have the facility manage their money, the funds shall be held separately from the funds of the facility and other residents.
Transfer or discharge. The resident has the right to be transferred or discharged if they have recovered and no longer need nursing care, their needs cannot be met in the facility, they are endangering the health or safety of others, they have failed to pay for care, or the facility ceases to operate.
Grievances. Residents have the right to voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services at a nursing home without fear of interference, retaliation, or discrimination.
Contact Newman Law Group Today
Just like everyone else, seniors have the right to be free of abuse and neglect. Even if they live in nursing homes, they still have many legal rights.
If your loved one’s rights have been violated, seek legal help from the experienced team at Newman Law Group, LLP. We can help you understand how to go about proving your case so you can obtain compensation. To schedule a consultation with our office, fill out the online form or call (916) 352-3210.