A large number of California’s growing population of older adults reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are more than 818,000 people living in over 30,000 assisted living facilities. In addition, the CDC says that about 15,600 U.S. nursing homes house 1.3 million adults.
According to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) there are 5,900 assisted living centers in California. And the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) says that around 1,230 licensed nursing homes care for 400,000 California residents each year.
Although most elderly residents receive adequate care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, elder abuse is all too common. We’ve reported that one in 10 people aged 65 and older experiences abuse, but that statistic is most likely an underestimation of the actual incidence of abuse. The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark hope to build awareness of elder abuse and encourage community involvement in preventing the mistreatment of this vulnerable population.
Elder abuse is mistreatment of someone 65 years old or older that causes harm. The mistreatment may be intentional or arise through negligence—that is, through a caregiver’s failure to provide care that meets the generally accepted standard.
The main categories of elder abuse are:
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide different levels of long-term care for their residents.
Nursing homes and CCRCs that offer 24-hour nursing care are considered healthcare facilities. They are licensed under the California Department of Public Health (DPH). Assisted living facilities are not considered healthcare facilities. They are licensed under the California Department of Social Services. This distinction is important when it’s necessary to file a complaint against a nursing home or assisted living facility.
If you suspect elder abuse—especially if you’ve observed any of the warning signs covered above—it’s important to take prompt and appropriate action.
Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find examples of abuse of the elderly in nursing homes. In a 2021 case in Riverside County, a nurse was charged with criminal neglect after a 69-year-old woman’s unattended bedsore developed into gangrene and sepsis and caused her death.
Sadly, it’s not hard to find examples of assisted living abuse, either. The owners of a Los Angeles assisted living facility were recently charged with felony elder abuse after 13 residents died from Covid-19.
First, if someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
If the victim of the suspected abuse is not in immediate danger, here are the steps you can take in order of increasing urgency:
At any point in this process, if you suspect a crime has been committed, you can make a report to the local police department or sheriff’s office.
In addition, consider consulting an elder abuse attorney. Long-term care facilities are likely to take things more seriously when there’s an active DPH or CCL investigation—and if they’re aware that you’ve retained legal counsel. DPH and CCL can impose citations and fines, and law enforcement can charge abusers with crimes. However, only with the help of a qualified lawyer can you pursue reimbursement for medical expenses your loved one may have incurred or compensation for their pain and suffering.
The Bakersfield elder abuse lawyers of Chain | Cohn | Clark can help collect evidence to support your abuse claims and support you through the complicated process of unraveling an abusive situation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your elder abuse case.
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