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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, June 3, 2019

Tips on How to Report Elder Abuse this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Every year on June 15th, the United Nations, governments around the world, and legal professionals in communities across the globe gather to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. One of the purposes of this important day is to promote education and help prevent the growing epidemic of abuse occurring against vulnerable older populations.

Elder Abuse and exploitation is no small problem. According to the U.S. Administration for Community Living, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited every year. Older Americans also lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to financial abuse. These are funds that could have been used to pay for housing, food and medical care. 


Outside of prevention, perhaps the best way to combat the scourge of abuse is to report it to the authorities when it occurs. Studies consistently show that elder abuse and exploitation is often underreported, but it does not have to be that way.  Let us share a few tips about what to do if you suspect a senior loved one is the victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.


First, if the situation is an emergency, call the police or dial 911 immediately, and remove the older person from the source of danger. These situations can include, but are not limited to,  physical abuse perpetrated by caregivers, severe neglect in nursing homes, and even sexual assault. If you see something, do not wait to take action in a way that also preserves your safety.


Next, encourage senior family members to talk about abuse with doctors, nursing aides, religious leaders, friends, and family members who they trust. In almost all situations, doctors, health providers, and other senior care professionals are mandatory reporters, or required to tell the authorities about suspected incidents of abuse or neglect. Your aging loved one may also be more comfortable talking to a stranger about abuse than a family member.


Further, if the danger is not imminent, you can relay your concerns to a local Adult Protective Services agency, or Long-term Care Ombudsman. In our state of Alabama, reports of suspected abuse may be made anonymously to the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) which “operates an elder abuse prevention program in conjunction with the Long Term Care Ombudsman program to prevent elder abuse.” You can click this link right here to learn more on how to report incidents of abuse.

 

Remember, in all instances, you do not need to prove that abuse is occurring in order to report it. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. Do not wait to learn more about this important topic for you and your loved ones. Do not hesitate to ask us your elder care questions on this or any important topic that impacts you or your aging loved ones.


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