Elder Neglect

Serving Northern California and The Bay Area

A National Crisis: Protecting Our Elders from Neglect

Elder neglect is a shockingly widespread issue in the United States. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, nearly 1 in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of abuse.

elder-neglectFor-profit nursing homes and assisted living facilities can prioritize profit margins over resident care. When cost-cutting measures lead to understaffing or unqualified personnel, the consequences are severe. Residents suffer from:

  • Decubitus ulcers (bed sores): Due to inadequate monitoring and repositioning.
  • Dehydration and malnutrition: From neglect of basic needs like feeding and hydration.
  • Falls and injuries: Without timely assistance, even using the restroom can become dangerous.

What is Elder Neglect under California Law?

California’s Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15600 safeguards elders (65+) and dependent adults from neglect. Here’s what “neglect” means under this law:

  • Failing to provide basic care: This includes neglecting someone’s hygiene, food, clothing, or shelter.
  • Withholding necessary medical care: Physical and mental health needs must be addressed, though religious beliefs allowing prayer in place of medical treatment are respected.
  • Exposing someone to danger: Neglect encompasses failing to protect individuals from hazards that could cause harm.
  • Allowing malnutrition or dehydration: Ensuring proper nutrition and hydration is essential.
  • Inability to self-care: If an elder or dependent adult cannot meet their needs due to cognitive issues, mental limitations, substance abuse, or chronic health problems, it may be considered neglect.
At Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Law Center, we are committed to providing our clients with quality legal counsel when they need it most. Contact our office today to speak to our California elder abuse lawyers.

Types of Elder Neglect

  • Neglect of Basic Needs: This includes failing to assist with personal hygiene (bathing, dressing, toileting), providing adequate food and water, or ensuring a safe and clean living environment.
  • Medical Neglect: Withholding or delaying necessary medical care, medication management, or refusing to follow doctor’s orders can all be forms of neglect. (Religious beliefs allowing prayer in place of medical treatment are typically respected.)
  • Financial Neglect: Misusing or stealing an elder’s money or financial resources, failing to pay bills, or neglecting to manage their finances responsibly.
  • Social Neglect: Isolating an elder from friends and family, preventing them from participating in social activities, or failing to address their emotional needs.
  • Self-Neglect: When an elder is unable to care for themselves due to physical or mental limitations and refuses or is unable to accept help, it can also be considered neglect.

Signs of Elder Neglect:

  • Unexplained weight loss or dehydration
  • Poor hygiene or unkempt appearance
  • Bed sores or other skin problems
  • Untreated medical conditions
  • Unsafe living conditions (lack of food, dirty environment, safety hazards)
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Financial problems or missing valuables

Actions In Response To Suspected Elder Neglect And Abuse

Immediate Danger:

  • Call 911: If the senior is in immediate danger from physical abuse or has been physically harmed, call 911. Elder abuse is a crime, and the police can intervene.

Reporting Abuse:

  • Report It: Elder abuse needs to be reported to hold abusers accountable. Contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency. You can find contact information through the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
  • Prepare Information: When reporting, be ready to provide details like the elder’s name, address, type of support they receive (family, medical, etc.), the suspected abuse type, and the abuser’s identity (if known).

Gathering Evidence (Optional but Helpful):

  • Document: Documenting the situation can strengthen your report. If possible, take pictures of injuries or unsanitary living conditions. Note down observations of poor hygiene, bed sores, physical abuse, or improper restraints in a log.
  • Formal Complaints: If the abuse occurs in a facility, consider making formal complaints to supervisors. Document the date, who you spoke with, and their response. Keep copies of all communication.

Get Justice for Your Loved One: Elder Neglect Legal Help

Ensuring your loved one’s safety is the top priority. After addressing their immediate needs, you deserve to hold those responsible accountable.

Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Law Center Can Help

We are a leading California law center with a proven track record in elder abuse and neglect cases. Our compassionate team understands the emotional and financial toll these situations take on families.

We Fight for Seniors in San Francisco, the North Bay, Oakland, Walnut Creek, San Jose, Sacramento, and Across California

Let us advocate for your loved one. We offer:

  • Free consultations: Discuss your case with a dedicated attorney at no cost.
  • Experienced representation: Benefit from our extensive knowledge of elder abuse law.
  • Compassionate support: We understand the sensitive nature of these cases.

Take Action Today

Don’t let elder neglect go unaddressed. Get the legal help you deserve.

  • Contact us online for a free consultation.
  • Call (877) 270-4700 or our closest local office for a free consultation.


“Abuse & Neglect In Nursing Homes & Residential Care/Assisted Living Facilities.” CANHR. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.canhr.org/abuse

“What Is Abuse?.” NAPSA. National Adult Protective Services Association. Web. 31 May 2013. http://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-abuse/

“What Is Neglect?.” NAPSA. National Adult Protective Services Association. Web. 28 May 2013. http://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-neglect/



Neglect is a form of elder abuse in which a caregiver fails to provide the senior with basic needs. This includes water, food, shelter, medical assistance, personal hygiene products, heat or air conditioning. It includes excessively medicating an elder or not positioning and/or moving an elder resulting in bedsores. Remember, seemingly non-serious forms of neglect (such as dehydration, bedsores, etc.) can be life-threatening to the elderly. In fact, we have handled too many elder abuse cases where a single, serious bedsore led to a serious infection to an elderly person, ultimately resulting in death. The key lesson to learn from this is that neglect to an elder must be taken seriously because they often do not have the ability to withstand physical neglect. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to neglect. As with any form of elder abuse, neglect should be promptly reported to the appropriate authorities.

Signs of Elder Neglect:

  • Any signs of dehydration, bedsores (decubitus ulcers), malnutrition, sepsis, etc.
  • The elder feels isolated by a caregiver and is unable to speak freely or spend time with others.
  • A caregiver fails to assist with personal hygiene or medications.
  • A caregiver has a history of violence, or alcohol or drug abuse.
  • The senior shows signs of being sleepy or “out of it” when they normally would not be tired.
  • The elder has sudden weight loss.
  • The elder does not have necessities, including eyeglasses, dentures, prostheses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, or other critical items.
Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the infliction of bodily injuries on an elder. Seniors or their loved ones should immediately report physical abuse to law enforcement by calling “911” or Adult Protective Services. In addition, consult an attorney who specializes in elder abuse cases.

Physical elder abuse is the neglect or mistreatment of an elderly person (typically a person age 65 or older). In California, if a person over age 65 is neglected, such neglect in considered elder abuse and there are special laws that were enacted to protect elders from such harms. If elder neglect/abuse results in injuries to an elder, then an attorney that specializes in elder abuse should be consulted because it is one of the most effective ways (and often the only way) to stop the abuser.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is far too common. Some 1.6 million people in the U.S. live in approximately 17,000 licensed nursing homes on any given day, and over a million persons live in about 45,000 plus residential care facilities, variously known as personal care homes, adult congregate living facilities, domiciliary care homes, homes for the aged, and assisted living facilities. [See, Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Facilities: What is known about Prevalence, Causes, and Prevention, June 18, 2002.] While a number of studies have estimated that between three (3%) and five (5%) percent of the elderly population in the U.S. have been abused, the Senate Special Committee on Aging estimated that there may be as many as 5 million victims of elder abuse and/or neglect every year! [See article by the National Center on Elder Abuse.] Further, the available data indicates that only one (1) out of every fourteen (14) abuse/neglect cases is ever reported to authorities. And, while the elderly are already extremely vulnerable to abuse, issues of mental impairment and dementia are additional significant factors that make seniors even more susceptible to elder abuse and/or neglect. Accordingly, elder abuse is a very serious problem that continues to plague our society.

Elder abuse happens everywhere – in poor, middle class, and upper-income households and in far too many long-term care facilities. It is a problem that has no demographic or ethnic boundaries. Because family members, close friends, and even professional caregivers are often the culprits of abuse and neglect, it is often difficult to discover and even more difficult to accept.

Signs of Physical Abuse:

  • Dehydration, bedsores (decubitus ulcers), malnutrition, sepsis, etc.
  • Lacerations, abrasions, fractures, welts, bruises, discoloration, or swelling
  • Pain or tenderness on mere touch
  • Detached retina, bleeding, or scalp wound
  • Elder becomes withdrawn, unusually introverted or afraid
  • Appears depressed and not himself/herself
  • Unusual mood changes and anger
  • Fear of being touched or approached by others
Financial Abuse

Financial Abuse is the mismanagement of money, property or other assets belonging to an elder. Anyone who has access to an elder’s personal information, such as bank accounts, credit cards, checkbooks, etc. can potentially steal from them. Once again, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to every form of abuse so be careful about whom you trust. Elders of their loved ones should take steps to protect the elder from financial abuse.

How To Protect Yourself From Financial Abuse

  • Cancel all credit cards the elder is not using.
  • Never keep the elder’s personal identification number (PIN) and their ATM card in the same place. If you need to write it down, be sure to keep it in a secure place.
  • Never give your credit or ATM cards to a family member or a friend to buy things for you. Whenever possible, give them cash or reimburse them with a check.
  • Try to balance your checkbook or have a trusted family member or friend do it for you on a monthly basis. Immediately inform your bank or credit card companies of any activity that does not appear to be your own.
  • Report financial abuse to Adult Protective Services by calling 1(877) 4-R-SENIORS or by calling your local police department.

When to suspect you or someone you know may be a victim of financial abuse:

  • You detect unusual activity in your bank accounts – such as numerous withdrawals or attempts to withdraw a large sum of money.
  • A friend or caretaker asks you for a loan and tells you to keep it a secret. A need for secrecy can be a warning sign of an intent not to repay the loan.
  • You see your bills piling up when payment is the responsibility of your caretaker.
  • You see changes in your will or power of attorney though you are unable or unwilling to make such changes.
  • You lack amenities, such as clothing and grooming items, although you have the means to pay for these items.

Contact Us

Contact an experienced California attorney who specializes in representing victims and family members of those who have suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Toll Free (entire state) - (877) 270-4700
Walnut Creek - (925) 820-4700
Oakland - (510) 839-7777
San Francisco - (415) 337-1000
North Bay - (707) 750-3333
San Jose - (408) 465-4800
Sacramento - (916) 890 2700

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    Serving Northern California and The Bay Area


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    Walnut Creek, CA  94596



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    San Francisco, CA  94105
    Phone: (415) 337-1000



    360 Grand Avenue, Suite 180
    Oakland, CA  94610


    San Jose
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    San Jose, CA 95133
    North Bay
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    Vallejo, CA  94590
    1414 K Street, Suite 470
    Sacramento CA 95814

    Have Questions about Elder Care Law?

    Contact an experienced California attorney who specializes in representing victims and family members of those who have suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility.