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What Is Considered Elderly Abandonment?

What Is Considered Elderly Abandonment?


Elder abuse occurs in a wide variety of ways in California and throughout the United States. In some cases, elder abuse involves physical abuse. In other cases, this type of abuse is emotional and psychological or even financial. However, sometimes, elderly individuals are completely abandoned by their caregivers. Here, we want to look at what it actually means to abandon an elderly person. This type of abuse is abhorrent, and any person who abandons their responsibilities to care for an elderly individual should be held accountable for their actions.

What is Elder Abandonment?

Elder abandonment in California is generally defined as the purposeful and permanent desertion of an elderly person who needs assistance. There are various areas where an elderly person can be abandoned, including:

  • Their own home 
  • The home of a relative or friend
  • A hospital
  • A nursing home
  • A public location

Elderly abandonment can occur for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, a caregiver may feel overburdened and believe that they lack the resources needed to care for the elderly individual. In other cases, abandonment may occur out of the desire to harm the elderly person. Regardless of why elderly abandonment occurs, it is important to understand that this type of elder abuse can have a devastating effect on the victim.

Unfortunately, many cases of elder abandonment go unreported. In some cases, elderly abandonment occurs along with other types of elder abuse, such as physical abuse, financial abuse, or emotional and psychological abuse. Statistics may reflect those other types of abuse, but they may not reflect the abandonment.

Most states have laws in place that define elder abandonment. When we turn to California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15600, we can see that abandonment is defined as “the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder [anyone 65 year of age or older] or dependent adult by anyone having care or custody of that person under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody.”

Under California Penal Code §368(c), we see that anyone who abandons an elderly person under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death will be guilty of a misdemeanor offense. Penalties can include imprisonment for up to one year in county jail or two to four years in state prison (up to seven years himself from great bodily injury or death).

Work With an Elder Abuse Attorney

If you discover that an elderly friend or family member has been abandoned by a caregiver or an assisted living facility, you need to contact a skilled San Diego elder abuse attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to handle every aspect of the case on their behalf. In these situations, an attorney can conduct a complete investigation into the incident in order to determine exactly what happened.

Elder abandonment lawsuits will take place in the civil court system as opposed to the criminal court system. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are responsible for proving elder abuse and ensuring that those responsible are handed criminal penalties. However, a civil elder abuse case for abandonment could help the abuse victim recover the compensation they are entitled to for their losses. This can include coverage of any medical bills caused by the abandonment as well as various types of pain and suffering.

Learn more about how Attorney Joel Bryant can help. Contact us online or call (619) 597-2577 today!