What is Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse

Federal definitions of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation appeared for the first time in the 1987 Amendments to the Older Americans Act. These definitions were provided in the law only as guidelines for identifying the problems and not for enforcement purposes. Currently, state laws define elder abuse, and state definitions vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another in terms of what constitutes the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly. In addition, researchers have used many different definitions to study the problem. Broadly defined, however, there are three basic categories of elder abuse:
(1) domestic elder abuse;
(2) institutional elder abuse;
and (3) self-neglect or self-abuse.

In most cases, state statutes addressing elder abuse provide the definitions of these different categories of elder abuse, with varying degrees of specificity. In California, the Welfare and Institutions Code (15610.07) defines “Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult” as physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering; or the deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering. “Elder” means any person residing in this state, 65 years of age or older.

Advocacy and Legislation Committee
Reviews current and proposed laws, compares laws with needs, sends support letters for proposed legislation, provides local political outreach within city and county agencies, surveys unmet needs, provides problem solving.

Capacity Building Committee
Develops strategic and fundraising plans for the Council and participates with the Ventura Partnership for Safe Families & Communities.

Educational and Conference Committee
Develops conferences, Seminars, in-services, a speakers bureau, and coordinates partnerships with other agencies.

Outreach and Membership Committee
Creates outreach plan, tracks outreach and develops list of service providers. Identifies potential council members and develops roster, orientation packet and dues policy (including a by-laws subcommittee).

Some of Our Successes Through the Years:
• Established a shelter system
• Initiated and supports the development of the Financial Abuse Specialist Team
• Partners with the justice system for greater coordination
• Provided training programs for law enforcement
• Serves as Advisory Board to the Financial Abuse Specialist Team
• Provides community education
• Produces educational conferences
• Supports & partners with Adult Protective Services

 

Physical abuse means any of the following

Assault, battery, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water, and sexual assault. Also included in California’s definition of physical abuse is the use of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication, as a means of punishment or for any purpose not authorized by a physician.

HOW IS ABUSE RECOGNIZED?
The indicators listed below were adapted in part from the National Center for Elder Abuse web site.

Signs and Symptoms of Physical Abuse:
• Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks;
• Bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures;
• Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing;
• Sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding;
• Broken eyeglasses/frames, physical signs of being subjected to punishment, and signs
of being restrained;
• Laboratory findings of medication overdose or under utilization of prescribed drugs;
• An elder or dependent adult’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated;
• An elder’s sudden change in behavior;
• The caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder or dependent adult alone.