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Suspect Elder Abuse? How to Respond & Report

Meghana Giridhar - June 09, 2015 12:33 PM

June 15th, 2015 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse encompasses harmful physical, emotional and sexual exploitation as well as abandonment and neglect. It is estimated that only 1 in 5 elder abuse crimes are discovered and can occur anywhere, whether it be at home or at institutional settings.

Elder abuse often goes unreported either because seniors fear retaliation from the abuser or family members are unaware of the situation. It is imperative to watch for abnormal signs of behavior. If elder abuse is suspected, reporting is crucial.

Whom to Call?
The first step is to call 911 or the local police if an elder is in immediate danger. Adult Protective Services (APS) is usually the first responder offering investigative and intervention services with its power varying from state to state. Contact numbers can be found at the State Resources section of the National Center on Elder Abuse website. One can also reach out for help via the Eldercare Locator website or calling 1-800-677-1116. If it’s a case of abuse at a nursing home, the state Long Term Care Ombudsman program in your area can provide assistance.

Information to be Provided:
Once the right personnel has been reached, they will need details such as the elder’s name, address, contact information and details of suspected elder abuse incidents. Information is always kept confidential. One must provide as many details as possible so personnel can get a clear picture and advise on next steps.

After assessing the situation, APS will assign a case worker to begin investigation into the abuse claims. The process includes case planning, monitoring and evaluation as also assistance including medical, social, economic, emergency and law enforcement services. An elder has the right to refuse services and the APS agency can provide services only if the senior agrees or has been declared incapacitated by law. Local police, sheriffs and attorneys are responsible for prosecution.

Every year, 5 million seniors are victims of elder abuse. It is important to understand that the person getting abused is not alone. There are resources available to provide support and help. The best way to combat abuse is to keep your eyes and ear open and act for immediate justice.


Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Coordinator and is part of eCareDiary's founding team.  In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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