The elderly are a vulnerable population who deserve our protection and respect. Sadly, elderly abuse is still an ongoing problem, with reports of the elderly suffering physical, emotional, or financial harm increasing yearly.
In the United States, it is estimated that only 1 in 23 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities, although it happens in 1 out of 10 seniors. Elder abuse is hard to identify due to the deteriorating cognitive functions of seniors. However, this behavior is unacceptable and needs to be punished accordingly.
Is elder abuse a felony? Let's take a closer look.
Elder abuse is defined as any physical, emotional, or financial harm inflicted on an individual aged 65 or older. It is a felony in many states and is punishable by fines, jail time, or both.
Additionally, this abuse is a form of domestic violence covered under the same laws, often perpetrated by family members, caregivers, or other people in positions of trust.
In some cases, elder abuse happens in nursing homes where families trust their loved ones to receive the best care.
In some states, elder abuse is a felony regardless of the severity of the abuse. While in other states, elder abuse is only a felony if the abuse is severe or if the abuser has a history of abusing the elderly. Otherwise, they are treated as misdemeanors.
Elder abuse can have devastating physical and psychological consequences for the elderly victim. Knowing the initial symptoms is crucial in determining if abuse is happening and taking preliminary steps to address it.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. The Department of Justice has a comprehensive list of common crimes against older adults and their penalties.
Penalties vary depending on the severity of elder abuse, with more sinister or harmful cases generally receiving harsher sentences. Other factors, such as the abuser's past criminal history and relationships with the elderly, also come into play when it comes to punishments. Often, if an elder's caretaker is found to have abused them, their actions are viewed as despicable and inexcusable, leading to more severe punishments than other cases of elder abuse might receive.
Penalties for elder abuse include fines, incarceration, and restitution, depending on the factors outlined above.
Still wondering, “Is elder abuse a felony”? Here are other commonly asked questions surrounding it:
Elder abuse can take many forms — from physical and psychological to financial and even neglect. Unfortunately, the highest form of elder abuse is abandonment, when vulnerable seniors are left alone in an unfamiliar place, unable or unwilling to care for themselves.
While this type of elder abuse is not always easy to spot, doing nothing only allows it to continue. Everyone must protect the elderly from potential peril, and we should all work together to ensure that no elderly person is ever forgotten or abandoned.
Elder abuse can be difficult to discuss, and it often goes undiagnosed. However, elder abuse has several signs and symptoms that should not be overlooked. In particular, seniors may experience physical injuries like bruising, fractures, or sprains.
Changes in behavior may also point to elder abuse, such as sudden changes in sleeping or eating habits, withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy participating in, poor hygiene or neglect of their personal appearance, fear of certain people, or social isolation.
Healthcare professionals must ask elderly adults detailed questions about any suspicious behavior they have observed. Documenting any observed elder abuse is essential in ensuring the elderly adult receives proper medical attention.
In California, the penalty for elder abuse ranges from fines to jail time, depending on the severity of the crime. Any elderly person who finds themselves mistreated should contact the police immediately so that legal action can be taken against their abuser and justice can be served.
Elder abuse is, unfortunately, a prevalent issue in this world, and those responsible for these abuses can expect to face legal consequences. While it is difficult to diagnose, being attentive and caring for your elderly loved one will help you spot the symptoms early on. Don't hesitate to report a crime when it happens to protect your loved one from lasting consequences.
That answers the question, “Is elder abuse a felony?” If you need legal representation, check out our article on legal services for seniors.