When our parents, grandparents, and other elderly persons close to us are living in nursing homes or assisted living centers, we want the best for them, and any sign of ill treatment is a reason for extreme concern. Thus, what label that mistreatment comes under may not seem like it matters. But, for the purposes of taking legal action against those who do harm to our elderly family members to hold them accountable and recover for injuries, the legal terms do matter. Two of the more common legal terms in California relating to mistreatment in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are “elder abuse” and “elder neglect.” Below, we discuss the connection and distinction between those terms and what you can do to legally protect family members in response to elder abuse and elder neglect.

Elder Neglect is a Type of Elder Abuse in California

California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act prohibits a variety of actions and omissions by all caregivers and others who interact with elderly persons. Broadly, the prohibited acts and omissions are referred to as “elder abuse” and neglect is one of the main types of elder abuse that is prohibited by the statute. Other forms of elder abuse addressed by the law in addition to neglect include:

  • Physical abuse of the elderly (which can include unnecessary restraints and treatments given without informed consent)
  • Mental abuse of the elderly (harassment, yelling, intimidation, etc.)
  • Sexual abuse of the elderly (which can include inappropriate touching)
  • Financial abuse of the elderly (stealing, using undue influence or coercion to get an elderly person to transfer property, fraud, etc.)

How Neglect is Defined in the Context of Elder Abuse

While the other four main forms of elder abuse described above relate to acts specifically directed at elderly persons, neglect is a bit different in that it is primarily a failure to act in providing service, care, or supplies to an elderly person in the care of an individual and/or organization.

California’s elder abuse law defines neglect as: “The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.” This is an intentionally flexible standard under which many different types of specific failures to exercise care might qualify, but the law goes on to provide a number of examples of neglect, including:

  • Failing to assist an elderly person with personal hygiene or in providing the person with adequate food, clothing, or shelter
  • Failing to provide an elderly person with the reasonable medical care to address his or her physical and mental health needs
  • Failing to protect an elderly person from health and safety hazards (e.g. infestations, exposure to toxins, fire threats, etc.)
  • Failing to take steps to avoid the elderly person from experiencing malnutrition and/or dehydration

Again, these are only a few examples, and you should speak with an elder abuse attorney about other failures to act by a caretaker which can constitute neglect.

Taking Legal Action Against Neglect With the Help of an Elder Abuse Attorney

If you suspect elder abuse at a nursing home or assisted living facility – whether it be neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, or financial abuse – you can take steps to protect the elderly resident and potentially recover monetary damages from the organization that allowed the abuse to occur by working with an experienced California elder abuse attorney.

At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our legal team is on the side of elder abuse victims and their families. Our attorneys have recovered over $500 million for our clients. If you suspect that you or a family member have been a victim of elder abuse, please contact McCune Wright Arevalo today to schedule a free consultation.