Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse

What is Elder Abuse? Elder abuse is defined as the unlawful physical or psychological mistreatment of a senior, which can include taking financial advantage of a senior as well as actual neglect or physical mistreatment. Each of these crimes is punishable by imprisonment (California Penal Code 368).

What can you do? Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Tell someone and help stop the cycle. These crimes can be committed in the following ways:

  • PHYSICAL / SEXUAL ABUSE: Any physical pain or injury committed against an elder. ALL sexual acts committed without consent or ability to give consent.
  • NEGLECT: Failure of a caregiver to provide, clothing, shelter, assistance with hygiene and protection from dehydration, malnutrition and health and safety.
  • EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Fear, confusion or depression brought about by threats, intimidation or deception.
  • ABANDONMENT: Desertion of an elder or dependent person by someone changed with his or her care.
  • FINANCIAL ABUSE: Any theft of an elder’s money or property; may include wrongful use of legal documents such as power of attorney (POA).

Possible indicators of physical abuse or neglect:

  • Cuts, bruises, burns, or rope marks
  • Poor hygiene, rashes, sores, sudden weight loss
  • Soiled clothing, missing eyeglasses, dentures or hearing aids
  • Fear, anxiety, isolation, personality changes

Possible indicators of financial abuse:

  • Sudden withdrawals of closing of bank accounts.
  • Sudden involvement of previously uninvolved relative or a new friend.
  • Unexplained changes to will, power of attorney or other legal documents.
  • Financial transactions involving the elder’s money or property where the elder does little speaking or appears confused or passive.
  • Reluctance to discuss finances or lack of knowledge of finances.

Report abuse to local Law Enforcement or Adult Protective Services.


What types of Restraining Orders are available?

There are three types of Orders:

1. Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

An emergency protective order is issued by a judge at the request of a law enforcement officer when circumstances present a possibility of imminent and immediate danger to a victim. These orders are temporary orders issued by the reporting police agency at the scene of the crime. An emergency protective order expires at the earlier of the following times: (a) The close of judicial business on the fifth court day following the day of its issuance or (b) The seventh calendar day following the day of its issuance (California Family Code Section 6256).

2. Criminal Protective Order (CPO)

A CPO is issued in a criminal case to protect someone (the “Protected Person”) from a Defendant. The criminal case is initiated by the District Attorney’s Office. A CPO may require the Defendant to stay away from and have no contact with the Protected Person, or it may require that if there is any contact, such contact be peaceful in every way. The expiration date is listed on the CPO. CPOs can only be modified by a judge.

The court is required to consider issuing a protective order in every criminal domestic violence case. Pen C §136.2(e)(1). A court must have jurisdiction over a criminal matter in order to issue the protective order. The order may be issued on a good cause belief that harm to, or intimidation or dissuasion of, a victim or witness has occurred or is reasonably likely to occur. Pen C §136.2(a). An initial CPO is in effect for 3 years or while the case is pending.

For orders under Penal Code sections 273.5(i) and 646.9(k), once the case resolves, the sentencing court shall also consider issuing an order restraining the defendant from any contact with the victim, which may be valid for up to 10 years as determined by the court regardless of whether a defendant goes to jail or state prison.

3. Civil Restraining Order

There are different types of restraining orders issued to protect one or more individuals from another person. These restraining orders are issued in Civil Court as part of a legal action initiated by the person seeking protection. The District Attorney is not involved. These Restraining Orders may include stay-away orders, no contact, or peaceful contact orders and can only be modified by a judge. The following agencies may be able to assess your needs and let you know what options are most appropriate to your situation. These agencies include: Alternatives to Violence (530) 528-0226 and the Self Help Assistance and Referral Program (530) 527-8649.

elder abuse

Links to Online Information

Adult Protective Services 

National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life

UC Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect 

State of California, Office of the Attorney General 

National Association of Sate Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office for Older Americans

Western Union Consumer Protection

Eldercare Locator 

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