Common myths about elder abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation annually. Unfortunately, perceptions about elder abuse are usually inaccurate and based on myths; the most common myths being:

Myth #1: Elder abuse happens only in low-cost or poor-quality nursing homes.

Most people think that elder abuse only happens in these establishments and to people who are too old to report it; this is largely a myth. While it is true that some elder abuse occurs in nursing homes and at the hands of strangers, most of the time, this is not the case. Only about 5% of older adults live in nursing homes; therefore, many victims live in their own homes or with relatives. 

Myth #2: Older adults with limited income are less likely to be victims of fraud or monetary loss. 

This myth hides the fact that many older people find themselves in a vulnerable situation by depending on another person regularly. This means that they probably entrust their finances to others. Usually, they require daily assistance, help to obtain food, and help to maintain a safe place to live. And unfortunately, some abusers threaten their victims with putting them in a nursing home if they complain about their treatment.

Myth #3: The law will do nothing to protect older adults from abuse and neglect.

California has specific laws that prohibit elder abuse. Physical or mental abuse of an older person can result in fines of up to $6,000 and prison terms of up to four years. There could be additional years in prison if the older adult suffers severe injuries or dies from the abuse. Financial abuse of the elderly is punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to four years.

Despite these laws, older adults may be afraid to come forward if the abuser is a family member or other close caregiver. For this reason, as a family member or caregiver of an elder, you have a duty to report suspected elder abuse immediately. Keep in mind that when you are a caregiver for an older adult in California, whether or not you receive payment, you are a mandated reporter.

If you suspect or witness elder abuse, you must report it by phone and file a written report within two business days. Elder abuse is intolerable and illegal, and it is crucial to bring the victims to safety. 

We understand the difficulty of dealing with a case of elder abuse, especially when it involves a loved one. If you are dealing with a situation of elder abuse, contact us for a free consultation. We review each case with respect and empathy and will work tirelessly to get fair compensation.