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Revised California law protects seniors


September 17, 2015


                                                Revised California law helps protect against elder abuse

SB 196 allows counties to intervene on behalf of victims


Mildred (not her real name) is a 78 year old woman living on social security; she has serious health and mobility issues as well as mild dementia.  Mildred’s 55-year-old daughter and son-in-law moved-in with Mildred and obtained Power of Attorney for authority over Mildred’s decision making.

During a visit to a Social Security office, Mildred’s son-in-law was observed kicking her twice as she was pushed out of her wheelchair.  Witnesses called police as Mildred’s daughter shouted disparaging remarks about “messing with our income.”  Adult Protective Services (APS) tried to interview Mildred about the incident but her daughter refused to allow the social worker access as she provided Power of Attorney papers.  In cases like this, when the victim is prevented from receiving help, a protective order cannot be obtained unless a conservatorship or criminal investigation is underway.  That process could take days or weeks to initiate, which means the abuse may continue.

Under the new provisions added to the Senate Bill (SB) 196 Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order laws, APS may now intervene on behalf of victims like Mildred to obtain protective orders as well as kick-out orders against the daughter and son-in-law.

The idea for the legislation came from three teams (“CARE Teams”) of professionals from over 15 county agencies and organizations. The CARE Teams work together to protect and improve the well-being of elders and dependent adults in the County of Riverside.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the Legislature and the Governor in providing us with the means to take protective measures and stop elder abuse at the earliest opportunity.” said DPSS Director Susan von Zabern.

Starting July, 2016, the new provisions authorize county APS agencies to file a petition for a protective order on behalf of an elder or dependent adult who has suffered abuse and has impaired ability to understand the circumstances that place him or her at risk.

Additionally, APS may intervene if the elder or dependent adult requests the assistance and has provided written authorization. DPSS Adult Services Regional Manager Michael McConnell testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee when SB 196 first went before the state legislature.   “Too often older adults are abused by family members and close friends. They are dealing with confusing feelings, and sometimes still feel attachment to the abuser. They also fear retaliation from hostile abusers,” McConnell said.