Elder abuse and neglect are sadly prevalent in California. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly one in six people over 60 experience some form of abuse in community settings each year. Shockingly, the situation can be even worse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, where two out of three staff members admit to witnessing abuse or neglect within the past year.

So, what should you do if you suspect an elderly loved one has been abused or neglected This article will be your comprehensive guide on how to report elder abuse in California. We’ll break down the signs to watch for, explain exactly how to report, and empower you to take action and protect your loved one.

1. Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse to know how to report elder abuse in California

If you want to know how to report elder abuse in California, start by understanding the signs of elder abuse. 

When we think of “abuse,” physical harm often comes to mind. But the truth is, it’s much broader than that. Abuse can also include things like neglect, sexual assault, emotional manipulation, and more. Knowing the specific type of abuse your loved one might be facing is key to helping them in the right way and knowing how to report elder abuse in California.

Here are the 4 main types of elder abuse that can happen in places like rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living communities, along with some red flags to watch out for:

1.1. Neglect:

Neglect is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. In fact, California’s Elder Abuse Act specifically defines neglect as a form of abuse. Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide the necessities of life, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, or medical care. Neglect can be physical, emotional, or financial.

Sadly, neglect can become a silent tragedy in nursing homes, often stemming from an overworked and understaffed environment. When caregivers lack the resources to provide proper medical care, the consequences can be devastating for residents. Their health, both physical and mental, suffers, leaving them vulnerable to injuries, illnesses, and even death.

It’s a nationwide problem leaving our most vulnerable loved ones at risk.

how to report elder abuse in California

Recognizing physical neglect is key to learning how to report elder abuse in California. Physical neglect is the most obvious form of neglect. It can include signs such as:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Rash or sores that are not being treated
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Injuries that are not being explained

Here are some tips for recognizing the signs of neglect:

  • Pay attention to changes in the elder’s appearance or behavior.
  • Ask the elderly about their living conditions and how they are being cared for.
  • Talk to others who know the elder, such as family members, friends, or neighbors.

If you see any signs of neglect, it is important to act and start an elderly abuse report in Califonia. Speak up and report the abuse to the authorities. You can also contact a local elder abuse hotline or advocacy organization for help.

Learn more about nursing home abuse & how nursing home abuse lawyer can help!

1.2. Physical abuse

Physical abuse is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences for victims. It can include not only physical attacks, such as hitting or pushing, but also other forms of abuse, such as drugging, restraining, or holding someone against their will.

Signs of physical abuse at nursing home

Here are some red flags that you may see if someone is being physically abused:

Visible Signs:

• Unexplained bruises, welts, cuts, or burns
• Fractures or bone breaks
• Dislocated joints
• Torn clothing or bedding
• Apprehension or flinching at touch

Behavioral Changes:

• Withdrawing from social activities or loved ones
• Becoming excessively fearful or anxious
• Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
• Changes in appetite or weight
• Self-harm or suicidal thoughts

1.3. Emotional or psychological abuse in California

Emotional or psychological abuse is an insidious form of mistreatment that leaves invisible scars but can have lasting negative impacts on the victim’s mental and emotional well-being. Unlike physical abuse, it doesn’t involve physical attacks, but rather subtle tactics that undermine a person’s confidence. It can include, deliberately trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore an elderly person.

Red flags to watch for:
• Changes in behavior: Withdrawal from social activities, loss of interest in hobbies, depression, anxiety, self-blame, increased fear or nervousness.
• Personality changes: Becoming insecure, timid, or passive-aggressive.
• Physical symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, sleep problems, eating disorders.
• Difficulty making decisions or expressing self.

Emotional or psychological abuse at nursing home in California

Signs of Emotional abuse and how to report elder abuse in California

1.4. Sexual abuse

This includes engaging in physical sexual acts, as well as certain activities like exposing the elderly to sexually explicit materials, pressuring them to undress without their consent, or other sensitive actions.

Signs of this abuse might include:

Physical Signs:
• Pain or discomfort in the genital area: This could be due to physical injuries or infections.
• Unexplained physical injuries or bruises: These may be in the genital area, but could also be on other parts of the body.
• Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): These can be contracted through any type of sexual contact, including non-consensual contact.
• Difficulty walking or sitting: This could be due to physical injuries or emotional distress.
• Unexplained pregnancies

Additional Signs:
• Secretiveness or withdrawal: A survivor may be hesitant to talk about what happened or may try to hide the abuse.
• Changes in relationships: A survivor may withdraw from friends and family, or they may become overly attached to certain people.
• Changes in school performance: A survivor may have difficulty concentrating or may experience academic problems.
It’s important to note that these signs can also be caused by other factors, such as mental health conditions or bullying. However, if you are concerned that someone you know may be experiencing sexual abuse, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and reach out for help.

2. Benefits of Reporting Abuse in California

Reporting Elder Abuse is a vital step in protecting our elders from a serious problem that can have devastating consequences for its victims. It helps hold nursing homes accountable and promotes nursing home reform.

2.1. Promoting nursing home and other care facility accountability when you report elder abuse in California

Reporting elder abuse plays a crucial role in holding nursing homes and other care facilities accountable for their actions and practices. It brings attention to instances of abuse and compels these facilities to address the issue. This, in turn, promotes much-needed reforms within the nursing home and long-term care industry, ensuring better care and safety for elderly residents.

For example, reporting elder abuse can help to lead to reforms such as:
• Increased staffing levels in nursing homes and assisted living facilities
• Mandatory training for nursing home and care facility staff on elder abuse prevention
• Better oversight of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Be there for your loved ones

Be there for your loved ones and learn how to report elder abuse in California

2.2. Elder abuse Reporting California helps create a safe and supportive environment for elders

By highlighting cases of abuse, raises awareness within communities and the healthcare sector, prompting greater vigilance and protective measures. This collective action helps protect vulnerable elderly individuals, ensures every right of elders, and fosters a culture of care and respect, enabling them to age with dignity and security.

3. How to report elder abuse in California?

3.1. Contact Adult Protective Services (APS) in your county.

If you witness elder abuse or suspect that abuse or neglect may be happening in California, no matter the particular circumstances, determine the number of your California county’s elder abuse hotline and make the call.

Alameda County: (866) 225-5277 San Mateo County: (800) 675-8437
Contra Costa County: (877) 839-4337 Santa Clara County: (800) 414-2002
Marin County: (415) 473-2774 Santa Cruz County: (866) 580-4357
Napa County: (888) 619-6913 Solano County: (800) 850-0012
San Francisco County: (800) 814-0009 Sonoma County: (800) 667-0404


3.2. How to report elder abuse in California if it occurred in a long-term care facility

If the facility is a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home, you can report elder abuse in California with these steps
– Make a complaint to the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH), which is the state licensing agency for this type of facility.
– Or you can directly call the CDPH district office in your area.

If the facility is an assisted living facility (also known as an elderly residential care facility or a board and care facility):
– Make a complaint to the CA Department of Social Services (CDSS), which is the state licensing agency for assisted living facilities.

3.3. How to report Elder Abuse not in a Long-Term Care Facility in California

First of all, you need to call the California Elder Abuse Hotline. Depending on the case, you may contact:

• In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Fraud:
If abuse involves IHSS care providers, consider calling the IHSS Fraud Hotline at 1-888-717-8302. They can investigate fraudulent activity and ensure proper care for the elderly person.

• Medi-Cal Fraud and Abuse:
If abuse is linked to Medi-Cal services, contact the Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-722-0432. They investigate fraudulent use of Medi-Cal benefits and protect vulnerable individuals.

If your loved one experienced abuse, reporting to law enforcement and other advocacy agencies may not feel like enough. The Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Law Center – one of the best elder abuse lawyers in California may be able to connect you with legal options. Contact us now to see how we can help.

how to report elderly abuse in California

4. How to report elder abuse in California anonymously

Can you report elder abuse anonymously? If you want to report elder abuse anonymously, check with your state’s related laws to make sure that option is available to you first. Local elder abuse attorneys also may be able to tell you if you can report anonymously.

You can report elder abuse anonymously in many ways, including:

• Phone: this may be the best way to report elder abuse and neglect anonymously, as it allows the organization to speak with you directly and ask questions.
• Online: Some law enforcement agencies allow you to submit online tips, which can be sent anonymously and assessed for credibility before being investigated.
• In-person: Certain advocacy agencies allow in-person reporting. Check with local agencies to see if you can report in person.

And remember:

Even if you choose to report anonymously, providing as much information as possible, such as the location of the elder, the type of abuse you suspect, and any injuries you have observed, can help investigators identify and protect the elder.

If you are concerned about your safety or the safety of the elder, do not attempt to intervene directly. Contact law enforcement or APS immediately and let them help you know how to report elder abuse in California 

5. Find Out How We Can Help You Report Elderly Abuse In California

See more: When you should hire an elder abuse attorney?

At the Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Law Center, we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look out for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances.

Contact us today for a free case review in person or remote consultation.

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