Perpetrators of Elder Abuse
Assisted living facilities are a type of care facilities for seniors who are still able to function somewhat independently and do not require the full-time care that a nursing home provides. It would seem, therefore, that the seniors who reside in these types of facilities would be able to advocate for themselves and not be subjected to the abusive treatment heard about in the more chronic-care environments.
Sadly, however, even in these limited care facilities, there are opportunities for abuse and neglect and residents can be exploited and taken advantage of.
What Is an Assisted Living Facility?
Unlike a nursing home or rehabilitation center that provides skilled nursing care and medical treatment, an assisted living facility provides services for a senior who may no longer be able to live fully independently, but who does not require constant supervision or medical care. Most seniors in assisted living are able to care for themselves but may need assistance and support with meal preparation, housework, or other physically challenging duties.
Opportunities for Abuse
Unfortunately, opportunities for abusing elders exist equally in the assisted living environment. Even though the caregivers may not be as constant a presence, they are still capable of delivering abuse in any of the following ways:
- Physical abuse. This can be hitting, slapping, pushing, restraining, and using force on the senior.
- Financial abuse. This can be when the caregiver insists on gaining control over the senior’s finances in order to benefit himself or another.
- Sexual abuse. When the caregiver uses his or her position of power to engage in non-consensual sexual relations with an elderly resident.
- Psychological abuse. When the senior is bullied, threatened, intimidated, or otherwise controlled through demeaning behaviors. The caregiver may threaten to abandon or remove support, causing the senior to experience emotional distress that leads to physiological manifestations of stress.
- Neglect. These occur when a caregiver either fails to provide adequate care and support, or any support at all.
Who Is Liable in Assisted Living Abuse Cases?
The actions of the facility, the caregiver, and the resident him or herself will all be relevant and considered. Because the senior is considered at least somewhat independent, he or she will be responsible for proving that the caregiver and/or facility behaved unreasonably in some manner and that their failure resulted in the injuries or harm suffered by the senior. These may include legal theories of:
- Inadequate staffing or training. If the facility failed to hire or train enough staff to service all of the seniors in residence, there may be liability on its part.
- Inadequate investigation or supervision. If the facility hired enough people but did not use adequate quality controls or background checks and didn’t monitor staff behavior, it may also be liable.
- Negligence. If the staff was providing treatment that they were not authorized to provide (such as medical support without proper training, not seeking medical treatment from a professional when a reasonable person would have, or failing to provide a reasonable standard of care), liability may follow.
- Premises liability. If the facility failed to properly maintain the buildings or grounds, and there was harm caused as a result, it may be liable.
Understanding the complex legal issues involved in an assisted living abuse case requires professional guidance. If you believe an elderly senior was abused at the hands of an assisted living facility, talk to a Long Beach elder abuse lawyer at Siegel Law at (562) 645-4145.
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- Perpetrators of Elder Abuse - National Institute of Justice