Reporting Elder Abuse
Abuse of the elderly continues to be a major problem in part because many victims and their loved ones are not reporting elder abuse. Fear of retaliation, lack of awareness, social isolation, and other factors can prevent individuals from reporting elder abuse, but victims and concerned loved ones should know that the advantages to reporting elder abuse far outweigh the risks, and that notifying the authorities could mean saving the life of the abuse victim, as well as many others in similar situations.
Individuals reporting elder abuse may be caregivers, employees at managed-care facilities, loved ones, friends, and neighbors. The obligation of reporting elder abuse falls to anyone who witnesses or even suspects abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly adult. The grounds for reporting elder abuse can include physical evidence of abuse, sudden personality changes, disinterest in old habits, and signs of neglect on the part of the caregiver.
By reporting elder abuse promptly, the person filing the report can aid in the investigation, help protect the victim from further abuse or even death, and deter elder future elder abuse by the accused individual and others. Reporting elder abuse in a managed care facility can also save countless others from suffering the same mistreatment. In many cases, victims are incapable of reporting elder abuse due to dementia, memory loss, social isolation, or humiliation, not to mention fear of reprisals.
If you or a loved one is being abused and you are planning on reporting elder abuse, you have several options. If the victim is in imminent danger of being severely injured or killed, then reporting elder abuse by calling 911 is probably the best idea. In other cases, the person reporting elder abuse should call the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 1-800-677-1116. This service aids persons reporting elder abuse in finding the appropriate local agency to best meet the needs of the situation. After reporting elder abuse to the proper authorities, you may wish to consider consulting an attorney who has experience working with abused elders in order to secure their legal rights, and to begin the process of recovering any funds owed to them.