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How to Report Elder Abuse

How to Report Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a persistent problem across the United States. Elder abuse is a broad term that is utilized to encompass a variety of ways in which an elderly person is harmed or taken advantage of by another, according to the National Council on Aging. Elder abuse is said to encompass:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Passive neglect
  • Confinement
  • Willful deprivation
  • Financial exploitation

Elder Abuse Statistics

Approximately one out of ten elderly Americans are thought to have been subjected to some form of elder abuse. Indeed, the National Council on Aging estimates that the number of people over the age of 60 subjected to elder abuse could top five million people in the United States each year.

There is evidence to suggest that only about one out of every 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to the proper authorities. It’s important to know that there are different avenues through which elder abuse can be reported and addressed.

  1. Contact Adult Protective Services

Every state in the United States has an adult protective services agency. In most cases, the agency is called “adult protective services.” The first step in the process of reporting suspected elder abuse is to contact them.

This type of agency is designated to act in the best interests of incapacitated and elderly adults who may be subjected to some type of victimization or abuse. This includes:

  • Elderly adults living on their own
  • Elderly adults living with relatives or some other third party
  • Elderly adults residing in an assisted living or skilled care facility
  • Elderly adults who are hospitalized

An adult protective services agency will have a telephone hotline as well as an online portal on its website through which a report of suspected elder abuse can be made. You can also make a report of elder abuse anonymously.

Contact information for state agencies that provide adult protective services can be found at the National Center on Elder Abuse website. The National Center on Elder Abuse is federal government agency that provides an array of resources to combat and address elder abuse in the United States.

2. Contact Law Enforcement

In addition to filing a report with adult protective services, elder abuse can also be reported to law enforcement. The reality is that most states have laws criminalizing many types of elder abuse. In other words, a person who commits certain types of elder abuse can be criminally prosecuted for the wrongdoing.

If the decision is made to file a report with law enforcement, the local police or sheriff’s office can be contacted. In fact, many local law enforcement agencies have officers assigned specifically to address allegations of elder abuse.

If a person perceives that an older person is in immediate danger, a report to law enforcement must be made without waiting. This can be accomplished as easily as calling 911 and reporting an older person in immediate harm or danger. This step can be taken no matter the physical location of the elderly individual, even if they are located in a different state.

3. Seek Legal Counsel

Another step you can take if you fear the occurrence of elder abuse is to retain legal counsel. There are attorneys who specialize in the area of elder abuse and other issues that impact senior citizens.

Typically, an elder abuse attorney will meet with a prospective client to evaluate a situation without any charge. This type of lawyer can assist with reporting elder abuse, but also can pursue other legal remedies if necessary. For example, a skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer Milwaukee, WI or elder abuse lawyer can pursue a lawsuit on behalf of an abused older citizen.

If you suspect a loved one may be experiencing elder abuse, talk to an attorney immediately for legal guidance about the steps you should take to protect your family member.

hanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim LLP for their insight into personal injury practice.