Report Elder Abuse
With 450,00 new cases of Elder Abuse reported every year it is imparative that ALL cases be reported to your local Adult Protective Service agency. The first agency to respond to a report of elderly abuse, in most states, is Adult Protective Services (APS). Its role is to investigate abuse cases, intervene, and offer services and advice. Again, the power and scope of Adult Protective Services varies from state to state. However, every state has at least one toll-free elder abuse hotline or helpline for reporting elder abuse in the home, in the community, or in nursing homes and other longterm care facilities. In addition, information and referrals are also available from the national Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116.
The Adult Protective Services Intake Specialist will ask you a number of questions to gather the information needed to determine what to do. It will be helpful if you can provide the following information to the Intake Specialist:
- Your name, address, phone number and relationship to the victim and alleged perpetrator.
- What is going on with the victim that makes you concerned?
- Does the victim know where to go for help?
- Does the victim know how to get out in case of an emergency?
- Does the victim need immediate medical attention? Should 911 be called?
- Do you think the victim can protect themselves? Are they capable of taking care of themselves?
- How you learned about the situation you are reporting.
- Names of friends, relatives or others who also know about the alleged abuse or neglect.
The Adult Protective Services Intake Specialist also needs to get additional information and any help you can give in providing that information is greatly appreciated. Adult Protective Services needs to know:
- Name, gender, date of birth or approximate age and Social Security number of victim and alleged perpetrators
- Language spoken or any language barrier
- Who else is involved or lives in the household of the victim?
- Who else might know of what is going on (doctor, friend, neighbor, church)?
(While the above information is important, APS will not reject a case because you don’t have the victim’s Social Security number or date of birth.)
If it is a case of Neglect, the Adult Protective Services Intake Specialist will ask:
- Does the adult have shelter, food, heating or medication?
- Can they bathe and dress themselves?
- Can the adult manage their own finances and pay their own bills?
- Does the person have anyone come into the home to help?
- Is the person receiving services from any community agencies, family or friends?
- How long has the person lived alone?
If it is a case of Abuse, the Adult Protective Services Intake Specialist will ask:
- How was or is the adult being abused?
- Are there any injuries? Describe them. How current are the injuries?
- Who did this to the adult?
- Is there a history of other injuries?
- Does the person who did this still have access to the adult?
- Has law enforcement been notified?
- Are you concerned for the person’s health and safety?
- Are there weapons, dangerous animals or substance abuse in the household?
If it is a case of Exploitation, the Adult Protective Services Intake Specialist will ask:
- How is the adult’s money being accessed and how is the money being spent?
- How long has this been going on?
- What are the adult’s financial resources?
- Do you know where the person does their banking?
- Who pays the bills?
- Is there any substance abuse by the person or the perpetrator?
- Is the perpetrator financially dependent on the adult’s money?
- Has law enforcement been notified?
The Domestic Violence Response Unit investigates all felony arrest cases involving abuse and/or neglect committed against a person 65 years or older or a dependent adult between the ages of 18 and 64. The criteria for elder abuse cases include those relationships listed for domestic violence as well as parent/child, grandparent/grandchild and elder/paid or licensed caregiver.
The DVRU Inspectors conduct a thorough investigation and present each case to the District Attorney for a decision on criminal charges
Non-arrest and misdemeanor arrest elder/dependent care cases are handled in the same manner as domestic violence incidents.
The DVRU maintains a close liaison with the District Attorney’s office, the Probation Department, Parole, the Family Violence Project and Adult Protective Services in order to accurately assess the seriousness of each case and provide maximum advocacy services to the victim.
If you are not in a position to help an elder personally, you can volunteer or donate money to the cause of educating people about elder abuse, and you can lobby to strengthen state laws and policing so that elder abuse can be investigated and prosecuted more readily. The life you save down the line may be your own.