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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

Most Americans would be shocked to learn that an estimated five percent, or 1.5 million, elderly Americans regularly are victims of abuse. In California there were 12,000 reports of abuse during 1986-1987, a forty-five percent increase in reports from the previous year. With the rapid growth of the elderly population and of the numbers of abused elders nationwide and particularly in California, elder abuse, as well as other problems peculiar to this population, demand and deserve greater attention and resources.

This note explores the scope of the elder abuse problem and reviews states' reponses to the problem in domestic and non-institutional settings in the form of Adult Protective Services laws. Examination of these laws highlights the concern that their provisions, which ostensibly are designed to assist the elderly and advance the state's interest in protecting its vulnerable citizens, actually are robbing elders of their rights to self-determination. In light of this concern and with an eye toward other states' provisions, Ms. Garfield critiques California's Adult Protective Services response to the problem and asserts that the vitality of California's Adult Protective Services laws is questionable. She suggests that as the nation nears the ten-year anniversary of the "discovery" of elder abuse it is time to reevaluate the adequacy of this California law.

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