Elder Abuse and Neglect: California Worst for Elder Abuse Protections with Nearly 7,000 Reports in Kern County

June 12, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Elder Abuse and Neglect: California Worst for Elder Abuse Protections with Nearly 7,000 Reports in Kern County

A study ranked California as the worst state for elder abuse protections among all states and Washington D.C., serving as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities faced by our aging population, particularly in the areas of physical abuse and neglect.

The Month of June is Elder Abuse Awareness month with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day landing on June 15, which focuses on ensuring justice for all persons regardless of age, disability, race, gender, or ethnicity. Kern County Board of Supervisors recognized the Month of June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month in a proclamation, and the Aging & Adult Services Department, Commission on Aging, District Attorney’s Office, and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services are hosting an elder abuse conference on June 13.

Elder and dependent adult abuse takes many forms such as physical, mental, neglect, self-neglect, abandonment, isolation, abduction, and financial abuse. An estimated 202,500 cases of reported elder and dependent adult abuse take place in California each year, and over 6,928 reports were made in Kern County in 2023, according to the Kern County Adult Protective Services. Even more, elder abuse is significantly underreported — for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 go unreported, officials say.

California ranked No. 51 out of states in America (including Washington D.C.) in a study by Wallet Hub, primarily due to its prevalence. Comparatively, states like Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Ohio top the list for elder abuse protections. These states have implemented robust protective measures, advanced training programs for caregivers, and stricter laws to deter abusers.

“It is a stain on our collective conscience that those who have built our communities and paved the way for us are left vulnerable to the cruelties of abuse and neglect,” said Tanya Alsheikh, attorney and elder abuse and neglect lawyer at the Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Clark. “We must do better. We must stand as unwavering advocates, raising our voices to demand justice, dignity, and protection for our elders. Their well-being is not just a moral imperative; it is a testament to the values we hold dear as a society.”

Physical elder abuse encompasses a range of harmful behaviors including hitting, slapping, shoving, and other forms of physical harm inflicted intentionally. Coupled with this is the issue of neglect, where elderly individuals are deprived of necessary care, leading to deteriorating health and well-being. These heinous acts not only break the spirit of older individuals but often lead to severe physical and psychological damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Here are some tips to help protect against physical elder abuse and neglect:

  • Stay Involved With Elder: Do not allow the elder to become isolated. Maintain close ties and make frequent contact and unannounced visits. Encourage the elder to maintain social contacts and increase their network of friends. If access to the elder is being denied, call adult protective services or law enforcement for a welfare check.
  • Use Safety Devices and Technology: There are many products on the market to decrease the risk of injuries to elders in their daily activities, such as grab bars, non-slip mats, and personal emergency response systems.
  • Carefully Select Caregiver: Ask for referrals, meet potential caregivers in person, and conduct background checks. Make sure they are certified and registered with the state.
  • Recognize Signs of Neglect: Look for lack of basic hygiene, unclean or unsafe living conditions, lack of utilities, untreated medical issues, and signs of malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Recognize Signs of Physical Abuse: Be aware of unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, or restraint marks. Also watch for signs of over-medication or lack of assistive devices like glasses or walkers.
  • Report Suspected Abuse: If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it immediately to the nursing home administration, local Adult Protective Services, law enforcement, or the National Center on Elder Abuse hotline.
  • By staying involved, using safety measures, carefully vetting caregivers, recognizing warning signs, and reporting concerns promptly, you can help protect vulnerable elders from physical abuse and neglect.

So, what can be done to address this issue in California?

  • There is a pressing need for legislative reforms that impose harsher penalties for abusers and mandate more rigorous checks and training for caregivers.
  • Public awareness campaigns can play a crucial role in educating communities about identifying and reporting abuse.
  • Increasing funding for Adult Protective Services can ensure that reported cases are investigated promptly and thoroughly, providing the necessary intervention to protect the elderly from harm.


How to Report Abuse

In an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report cases of abuse, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Adult Protective Services (APS) responds to reports from individuals, concerned citizens, social service and health providers, and law enforcement representatives about developmentally disabled adults, physically and mentally disabled adults, and the elderly who may be physically or financially abused, neglected, or exploited. Upon receipt of a referral, APS sends a social worker to attempt a face-to-face visit with the elder or dependent adult. 24-hour hotline at 800-277-7866 or 661-868-1006.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates elder abuse complaints in long-term care facilities and in residential care facilities for the elderly. The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and endeavor to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in these facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities. The goal of the program is to advocate for the rights of all residents in long term care 661-323-7884.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.