What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse, Neglect
Trusting your gut could mean all the difference for an abused or exploited senior, especially when elder abuse can vary in form and subtlety. There are different avenues to consider, depending on whether you believe abuse, neglect or exploitation may be occurring.
Of course, dangerous situations requiring immediate attention should be reported by calling 9-1-1 or a local police department. However, if you strongly suspect abuse, individuals should contact their state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) agency, generally considered a first responder in these situations. Remember to contact the APS agency of the state in which the senior lives. You can find the numbers for each state’s APS agency by visiting the Eldercare locator or National Center on Elder Abuse’s website. Individuals without Internet access can call Eldercare at 1-800-677-1116, where well-versed operators will provide callers with information on local agencies specializing in senior abuse.
What should I expect when I make a call?
When you make the call to report abuse, you may be asked for your own information; however, most states will accept your call without your personal information. All calls are confidential with APS agencies. Be prepared to provide the senior’s:
• Home address
• Phone number
• Details regarding the abuse that was witnessed or suspected
• Medical condition
Now what happens?
After you’ve made a call to your state’s APS agency, they will assess the call and respond based on the severity of the situation. If they deem the situation an emergency, a caseworker will be assigned and conduct an investigation within 24 hours. APS will contact other community agencies that may provide health or social services for seniors even if abuse is not a factor in a situation. Note: The senior reserves the right to deny help.
What about nursing home abuse?
Those who suspect wrongdoing on the part of a nursing home should contact their local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Find your state’s ombudsman or other long-term care resources here.
Note: In states whose statutes criminalize elder abuse, individuals may be required to notify law enforcement about suspected abuse. Elder abuse lawyers — like those at Garcia & Artigliere — are often needed to resolve cases of physical and financial abuse. Call 1-800-281-8515 to discuss your elder abuse circumstance. Receive a free case review here.