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HOME > Prosecutions > Elder  Abuse

  Elder Abuse  
   What is Elder Abuse?  Who Are Victims?  What types of Elder Abuse occur?  
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  What is elder abuse?  
Elder abuse can take a number of forms and may be defined in various ways. It is most often defined as an action by a person in a position of trust which causes harm to an elder. Harmful actions by strangers are usually not considered elder abuse.

The exact incidence of elder abuse is unknown. One estimate for the United States places the number of seniors abused or mistreated at 1.5 million per year. The figure may be much higher since elder abuse is often not reported. In any event, with a rapidly growing elderly population, the numbers can be expected to rise.

  Who are the victims of elder abuse?  
  Elder abuse can happen to anyone, although elders who have mental or physical disabilities are at the greatest risk. More women than men live to be elders, but both sexes are equally at risk for abuse. Some older people are abused by their spouses, others by children, others by caregivers in institutions. As with other types of abuse, those who abuse elders usually keep the victim socially isolated.  
  What types of elder abuse occur?  
  Physical Abuse  
  Any physical pain or injury which is willfully inflicted upon an elder by a person who has care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust with that elder, constitutes physical abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, direct beatings, sexual assault. unreasonable physical restraint, and prolonged deprivation of food or water.  
Financial Abuse
Any theft or misuse of an elder's money or property, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes financial abuse. 
The failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder to provide that degree of care which a reasonable person in a like position would provide constitutes neglect. This includes, but is not limited to:
    1.  Failure to assist in personal hygiene or the provision of clothing for an elder.
    2.  Failure to provide medical care for the physical and mental health needs of an elder.
         This does not include instances in which an elder refuses treatment.
    3.  Failure to protect an elder from health and safety hazards.
Self Neglect
Failure to provide for self through inattention or dissipation. The identification of this type of case depends on assessing the elder's ability to choose a life-style versus a recent change in the elder's ability to manage.
Psychological / Emotional
The willful infliction of mental suffering, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes psychological/emotional abuses. Examples of such abuse are: verbal assaults, threats, instilling fear, humiliation, intimidation, or isolation of an elder. 
Abandonment constitutes the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder by any person having the care and custody of that elder, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care of custody.

Office of the District Attorney, County of Tulare
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