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Case Study: Restraining Order for Elder Abuse Even If No Relationship

One million Americans age 65+ report having been abused by a loved one or someone they depend on for care. Only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are ever reported to authorities. And only 1 in 25 cases of financial exploitation are ever reported, meaning there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims each year.

Elder abuse is becoming more and more common. As seniors age and become more physically frail, they are unable to stand up to bullying or fight back. Also, because they may not see or hear as well or think as clearly, this leaves openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of these seniors. The following Court case illustrates some of the legal protection available to elders who have been abused.

Eighty-one year old Jude Darrin alleged that her next-door neighbor and her neighbor's boyfriend were abusing and harassing her. She claimed they were taunting and threatening her and her family. She also claimed they were trespassing and destroying her property.

Ms. Darrin petitioned for a restraining order under the California Elder Abuse Act. She asked the court to prohibit her neighbor from having contact, disturbing, or otherwise harassing her. However, the trial court dismissed the petition because Ms. Darrin and the neighbor did not have a special relationship under the Elder Abuse Act.

Ms. Darrin appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court decision. It held that under the Elder Abuse Act, a restraining order can be issued against any individual who abuses an elder, regardless of the relationship between the abuser and elder.

Elder abuse and neglect is a widespread problem that is often overlooked. If you suspect elder abuse and neglect, then do what you can to stop it and prevent it in the future.

If you are an elder being abused or neglected, then tell someone. You can tell a doctor, friend, or family member that you trust. You can also call the Eldercare Locator helpline at 1-800-677-1116.

If you see an elder being abused or neglected, then report the situation immediately. Do not assume that someone else will take care of it or that the elder can take care of him/herself. Often, the first agency to respond to reports of elder abuse is the Adult Protective Services (APS). APS investigates abuse cases, intervenes, and offers its services and advice.

Source: Darrin v. Miller, 2019 WL 337088 (Cal. App. First Dist. Jan. 28, 2019)


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