Elder man with his hand out saying stop.

California Elder Abuse Attorney

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Under California Law, elder or dependent adult abuse is defined as abuse of:

  • Someone 65 years old or older; or
  • A dependent adult, between 18 and 64 years old, with physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights.

The term “dependent adult” includes any person between the ages of 18 and 64 years who is admitted as an inpatient to certain 24-hour health facilities including, but not limited to, skilled nursing facilities, general acute care hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities.

These individuals belong to protected classes under the law due to their age or their physical and mental disabilities. As vulnerable classes, there are specific California laws designed to provide additional legal protection for these classes. California law says elder or dependent adult abuse is:

  • Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other behavior that causes physical harm, pain, or mental suffering; or
  • Deprivation by a caregiver of things or services that the elder or dependent adult needs to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.


Sadly, some of the most common and under-reported abuses of seniors or dependent adults is neglect. Neglect can occur when caregivers don’t provide the help needed for basic physical and mental health and/or safety. When a caregiver fails to provide adequate care for the elderly or disabled person to thrive, then neglect can occur. Examples of neglect include:

  • Not meeting basic hygiene needs like bathing and teeth brushing
  • Failing to provide adequate nourishment
  • Not seeking medical treatment for worsening physical or mental illnesses
  • Living in unsanitary conditions (insects, lack of utilities, faulty plumbing, faulty wiring, poor ventilation, etc.)
  • Failing to provide a safe environment that reduces the risk for falls and injuries
  • Leaving the person alone for extended periods of time
  • Reducing social interactions and contacts
  • Failing to provide adequate clothing for weather conditions
  • Not providing necessary medications and physical therapy (medication mismanagement)

The two most common signs of neglect are Pressure Sores (Bedsores) and Falls

Bedsores (also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers) are open wounds on the skin that are caused by force on the skin over long periods of time. The main cause of these wounds among seniors is nursing home neglect. Many seniors who are not mobile are at high risk of bedsores and need to be monitored and repositioned regularly by caregivers.

Falls are far too common among seniors who live in nursing homes. Estimates are that 50% to 75% of seniors in nursing homes experience falls. Falls can cause lasting injuries that accelerate the physical and emotional decline of a senior by causing a reduced quality of life, depression, social isolation and feelings of helplessness.

Common causes of falls and injuries from falls in the nursing home include the following:

  • Muscle weakness due to lack of activity
  • Environmental factors such as poor lighting, wet floors, improperly stored equipment, poorly maintained equipment, and beds that are too high
  • Medications, especially sedatives
  • Poorly fitting shoes and clothes, improper use of canes and walkers
  • Lack of proper fall and injury prevention measures such as tab alarms, sensor alarms, monitoring and fall mats

The elderly and disabled do not typically complain about abuse and neglect either due to fear or embarrassment. Some common signs of abuse include:

  • Unexplained injuries or unbelievable explanations for injuries or bruises
  • Loss of weight or signs of dehydration (extreme thirst, fragile skin, apathy, mental confusion)
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Bedsores
  • Being unclothed, or improperly clothed, for the weather
  • Extreme withdrawal or agitation
  • Lack of items needed like glasses, dentures, wheelchair, walker or cane
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Ambivalent feelings toward caregivers or family members

Confidential, Free Case Consultation

At Potter Handy, LLP Law Firm, our California Elder Abuse attorneys can evaluate your case, determine all of your available legal options, and help you obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. Let us help you bring closure and make the abusers pay for their crimes.

(415) 534-1911 Call today for a discreet and confidential consultation with an Elder Abuse Attorney in California.