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Elder Abuse Prevention Resource Guide

By Jessica Thomas November 18, 2020 Aging

Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. And sadly, the problem is likely to continue to increase as the American population ages. This article explores what elder abuse is and then provides resources that a concerned individual can access to help someone who is potentially experiencing elder abuse. 

What Is Elder Abuse? 

Elder abuse is abuse that is directed at an older American. Often, the abused individuals are vulnerable in a variety of ways. For example, the abused individual may be experiencing cognitive decline. They could have other health problems, or they may not have loved ones looking out for their well-being. 

7 Types of Elder Abuse

Many people don’t know this, but elder abuse is actually an umbrella term. Several types of elder abuse can occur, but the name is often generalized. The Nursing Home Abuse Center identifies seven specific types of elder abuse, which are: 

#1 Physical Abuse

Physical abuse happens when an older adult is physically harmed by a person who is in a caretaking role. This physical harm can take many different forms, such as hitting or kicking. As a result, the older adult may suffer broken bones, bruises, or a host of other problems. In some cases, the abuse may even result in death. Some typical signs may include: broken bones, bruises, and burns.

#2 Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse happens when an older adult is forced to engage in sexual contact that is non-consensual. Sometimes this abuse happens by force and sometimes it is perpetrated against a person who lacks the ability to consent, such as someone who is in severe cognitive decline. There may be physical signs of this abuse. Another clue to look for is if your elderly loved one suddenly experiences new sexually transmitted illnesses.

Some typical signs may include: 

  • Newly diagnosed sexually transmitted illnesses
  • Bruising around the genitals, and 
  • Bleeding from the vagina and/or anus

#3 Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is complex and may take on many different forms. As the name suggests, emotional abuse damages a person’s psyche or mental health and is often designed to create fear or anxiety. Often a person who is a victim of emotional abuse will appear withdrawn or depressed. Some typical signs may include:

  • Depression
  • Failure to make eye contact, and 
  • Increasing isolation from loved ones

#4 Financial Abuse

Financial abuse refers to the situation in which an elderly person’s financial assets are used improperly. Financial abuse can be perpetrated by an outside person. Many scam artists prey on the elderly or vulnerable. However, it is often done by family members who use their loved ones’ financial resources for their own needs. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing this type of abuse, reach out to banks or financial institutions. There may be clues in bank statements, for example.

Some typical signs may include: 

  • Bank statements being sent to a different address
  • A loved one discussing vague financial arrangements, and 
  • Valuable items from around the home suddenly going missing

#5 Abandonment 

Abandonment is a sad situation in which a caregiver walks away from the individual that he/she was caring with. In some cases, the caregiver will simply leave the older adult at a nursing home or hospital. In other cases, the caregiver may leave the person with another family member who had not consented to be the caregiver. 

One of the most typical signs of abandonment is a senior alone in an emergency department looking scared or confused. However, it is important to remember that Covid-19 protocols are different and change how people utilize the hospital. Therefore, an older adult on their own does not necessarily signal abandonment. 

#6 Neglect 

Neglect happens when a caregiver acts irresponsibly and does not protect the person in need. Often this results in physical harm happening to the older adult. Neglect can happen in many ways. Often, it expresses itself as the caregiver not helping the older adult with necessary hygiene tasks, or the older adult may be underfed or dehydrated. 

Some common signs of neglect may be: 

  • A person looking dirty or disheveled
  • Wearing dirty clothing, or 
  • Being underfed or dehydrated

#7 Self-Neglect

Self-neglect is a complex topic. It occurs when an older person struggles with meeting their nutrition and hygiene needs. This can happen for a variety of reasons. In some situations, the older person may be depressed or anxious and their mental health challenges can have significant spillovers. In other cases, it is a result of physical or cognitive decline. Many of the signs and symptoms of self-neglect are similar to what one would see in a neglect situation.

Interesting Facts

Most of the types of abuse outlined above are relatively well understood. However, two interesting facts are worth highlighting. First, the most common type of abuse experienced by older Americans is neglect. A neglected senior may not get the food or medical care that they need to thrive. Their caregiver may also fail to provide them with basic sanitation. 

Second, when senior citizens self-report abuse, statistics show that they are more likely to report financial abuse than any other abuse type. Some of this is a result of shame. It is far more socially acceptable, at least in some people’s minds, to report that they have been scammed than to state that somebody sexually abused them. The costs of this financial abuse are staggering. The Nursing Home Abuse Center reports that this financial abuse may cost up to $3 billion per annum

Protecting Your Loved Ones

The first step in protecting your older loved ones from abuse is to read through the list of types of abuse and familiarize yourself with them. Each form of abuse has typical warning signs or red flags. This is also something that you should do to become better acquainted with what elder abuse looks like. 

Who Are the Abusers and Who Are the Victims? 

Unfortunately, abusers do not wear a sign around the neck warning an older person to be aware. There is not always a standard picture of who an abuser is or what they look like. Abusers can be professional health care workers, including the staff at a nursing home or health care assistants. Abusers can also be long-term friends or even family members. 

Just like abusers come in many shapes and sizes, victims of abuse can vary widely. The victims of abuse are often vulnerable in one or more ways. For example, they may have Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia that reduces their ability to understand what is happening or impinges on their ability to communicate to other people what is happening. A victim of abuse may also have other types of medical issues. Often, victims are people who feel isolated or lonely, such as following their spouse’s death. These victims also may not have trusted family in close geographic proximity to them to look out for them and their well-being. 

What Should You Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse 

You can and should take numerous steps if you suspect that someone you care about is a victim of elder abuse. Your approach to suspected abuse may vary depending on what type of abuse you suspect and how imminent you believe the danger is.  It is important that you understand abuse directed at older adults in a comprehensive way, since this abuse, as noted above, can take many different forms. One great resource is the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). NCEA was founded as a government agency in 1988, recognizing the growing prevalence of elder abuse and the importance of our society working to combat it in meaningful ways. 

Another important resource to look at is Senior Medicare Patrol. This resource gives you information both about different types of senior abuse as well as how to report medical fraud and billing errors for older adults on Medicare. 

Once you have reviewed these sites and expanded your knowledge base on this topic, there are several steps that you should consider taking. 

The First Step: Collect Information 

As people say, information is power. No matter what steps you ultimately take to protect your loved one, information is important. First, trust your instincts. If you see something that seems off or is a known red flag for one of the seven types of abuse outlined above, take your concerns seriously. Begin to collect information. You may also want to take photos or videos, particularly if you suspect physical abuse. 

Collecting information also means listening to what your older loved one is telling you. Depending on their other health needs, they may or may not be able to articulate what is happening to them clearly. No matter what they tell you, trust will remain essential in this process. 

The Second Step: Reach Out and Make a Telephone Call 

Once you have collected the necessary information outlined above, you will likely want to reach out for help. This is a complicated process to attempt to navigate on your own. One’s first thoughts would probably be, “Who should I call?” The answer to this question depends on the jurisdiction where you live and the type of housing situation that your older loved one finds him or herself in. 

Call Adult Protective Services If They Live At Home

In the majority of cases, the first phone call should likely be to adult protection services. Adult protection services are set up on a state-by-state basis, and the rules and requirements for addressing abuse may vary dramatically across state lines. This means that it is essential to carefully research your state’s Adult Protection Services and the type of help they can offer. 

Even though some differences depend on the state in which your loved one lives,  many Adult Protection Services are set up in similar ways. Information about these services and their protective role can be found at the NCEA website. For more information about NCEA, you can contact the following: 

National Center on Elder Abuse 

Address: University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Geriatrics, 1000 South Fremont Avenue, Unit 22, Building A-6, Alhambra, CA 91803

Phone: 855-500-3537

Website

Contacting Adult Protective Services In Your State

The primary role of Adult Protection Services is to collect information and reports. You can file a report anonymously in case you are concerned about your own safety or retaliation. Once you’ve filed a report, the Adult Protection Services Department begins to investigate the claims. The 

investigation process may vary dramatically depending on the type of abuse reported.  

Once they’ve made a determination, the Department may implement a variety of steps always centering on the vulnerable adult’s safety and well-being. 

Below is a list of the resources that can be a great starting point for reporting abuse in each of the 50 states: 

Alabama: 

There are two numbers to call in the state of Alabama. The first number is 800-458-7214 and should be used for situations in which abuse is happening in the home. The second number is 800-356-9596 and is for abuse in nursing homes. More information about additional resources can also be found at the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

Alaska: 

There are several hotline numbers that you can use if your elder loved one is at risk in the state of Alaska. For abuse that is suspected in the home, call 800-478-9996 if you are in-state making the report and 907-269-3666 if you are out-of-state. For suspected abuse in a nursing home, there are two phone numbers to use. The first is 800-730-6393 for in-state calls. If you are calling from out-of-state use 907-334-4480. For additional information visit Alaska’s Adult Protective Services website.

Arizona: 

In Arizona, you should call 877-767-2385 or 877-815-8390 (TDD access) if you suspect that a loved one is experiencing abuse in the home. For suspected abuse in a nursing home setting visit this website to find out relevant information for reporting to the local ombudsman offices. 

Arkansas: 

There are several telephone numbers that can be used in Arkansas to report suspected elder abuse. If you believe that your older loved one is being abused at home, dial 800-482-8049. For suspected abuse at a care facility, call 501-682-8425 if the case is happening in Pulaski County or 800-582-4887 for abuse outside of Pulaski County

California: 

California abuse cases should be reported on a county-by-county basis. Visit your local county’s Department of Health and Human Services page to find the best numbers to contact. If the abuse is happening in a nursing home, a centralized telephone number has been set up. In this situation, call 800-231-4024. 

Colorado: 

Colorado has divided its process for reporting elder abuse depending on the setting in which it is occurring. For cases that are happening, elder abuse should be reported to county Adult Protection Services offices. More information about the office for your area can be found at The Colorado Department of Human Services. In the case of abuse happening in a nursing home, people should reach out to the Colorado Eldercare Planning Council. The Council again breaks down resources on a county-by-county basis. 

Connecticut: 

Connecticut has several statewide hotline phone numbers set up. For suspected abuse at home, if you are calling from inside Connecticut, dial 888-385-4225. For out-of-state individuals, call 800-203-1234. If the concerns are at a nursing home or long-term care facility, dial 866-388-1888 locally or 860-424-5200 if you are calling from out-of-state. If a concern happens outside of normal office hours, dial 211. 

Delaware: 

Delaware has one of the most streamlined reporting processes in the county. In Delaware, all elder abuse concerns should be directed to one telephone number, 800-223-9074. 

District of Columbia: 

Like in many jurisdictions, the District of Columbia divides abuse reporting based on where the suspected abuse happened. If it occurred in a home setting, you should call 202-541-3950 to file your report. If the suspected mistreatment happened in a long-term care facility, then you should dial 202-724-TIPS. Alternatively, you can also reach out to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 800-521-1639. 

Florida: 

Florida’s reporting process is also relatively streamlined. No matter where the suspected abuse happened, you should call 800-962-2873 to start the reporting process. Alternatively, if you need TDD/TTY access, then call 800-453-5145. 

Georgia: 

Georgia has several different telephone numbers to use depending on which area of the state the suspected abuse happened in and what type of setting the older adult was living in. For suspected abuse in the home, call 888-774-0152. If this suspected abuse happened in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, then call 404-657-5250. For long-term care facilities, the statewide number is 800-878-6442 or in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, dial 404-657-5728. 

There is also a statewide number that serves as a clearing center and also connects you with the Long-term Care Ombudsman. This number is 866-552-4464. In Georgia, if your concern is not only about one individual, but is about a facility as a whole then you can file an online complaint

Hawaii: 

In Hawaii, there are several different numbers to call to report elder abuse in the home based on which island you are living on. For Oahu, call 808-832-5115. For Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, call 808-243-5151. On Kauai, call 808-241-3338. On the islands of Hilo, Hamakua, and Puna, call 808-933-8820. On the other hand, for abuse in long-term care facilities, there is one number for the Long-term Care Ombudsman at 808-586-7268.

Idaho: 

If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of abuse in their home in Idaho, begin by reaching out to Adult Protective Services. The specialists there can guide you through the appropriate next steps. For concerns about abuse at long-term care facilities, contact 800-677-1116 to begin the process. 

Illinois: 

Illinois offers several phone numbers that you can use if you are concerned about elder abuse. If the suspected abuse is happening at home, dial 866-800-1409 or 866-206-1327 for TYY access. The Senior Helpline is your go-to resource for abuse at long-term care facilities. This line can be reached at 800-252-8966 or 800-206-1327, TYY access. 

Indiana: 

Indiana also has a streamlined reporting process. All concerns, irrespective of location, should be called in to 800-992-6978.

Iowa: 

There are several numbers to keep in mind if you suspect a loved one in Iowa is experiencing elder abuse. If the suspected abuse is happening at home, dial 800-362-2178. For abuse in a long-term care facility, you have two options. You can either call 877-686-0027 or you can contact the State Long-term Care Ombudsman at 800-532-3213. 

Kansas: 

Kansas offers many different reporting options based on both where the suspected abuse happened and where the person calling in the abuse is located. If you are in-state and the suspected abuse happened at home, dial 800-922-5330. If you are calling from out-of-state, use 785-296-0044. On the other hand, for suspected abuse at long-term care facilities, call 877-662-8362 in-state or 785-296-3017 if you are out-of-state. 

Kentucky: 

There are several different numbers and ways to report suspected abuse in Kentucky. You can call 800-752-6200 for suspected abuse in any living situation. You can also call the Long-term Care Ombudsman for the state at 800-372-2973 (if you are calling from in-state) or 800-372-2991 from out-of-state. You can also use 800-627-4702 for TYY access. 

The state has also established a dedicated hotline for legal advice solely for seniors at 800-200-3633. Another way to report abuse in Kentucky is to contact your relevant county-level organization.

Louisiana: 

In Louisiana, the primary number for reporting suspected abuse is 800-898-4910. The State warns that you may expect high call volume and long waits. There are also two phone numbers for Louisiana’s Long-term Care Ombudsman, 866-632-0922 for in-state calls and 225-342-7100 for out-of-state inquiries. 

Maine: 

In Maine dial 1-800-624-8404 for the Adult Protective Services hotline. If you are concerned about issues in long-term care facilities, the Long-term Care Ombudsman can be reached at 207-621-1079 or 800-499-0229.

Maryland: 

Maryland divides its reporting based on where the suspected abuse took place. For suspected issues at home, dial 800-917-7383. If you suspect that the alleged abuse happened in a nursing home or other long-term care setting, call either 877-402-8219 or 410-402-8201. 

Massachusetts: 

The reporting process is relatively straightforward in Massachusetts. To begin the process, dial 800-922-2275. For concerns that should be raised with the Ombudsman. In Massachusetts, there are ombudsman programs for individuals living in the community, as well as for those in assisted living and long-term care facilities. 

Michigan: 

The best number to call to start the reporting process in Michigan is 855-441-3911. An alternative resource is the Michigan Long-term Care Ombudsman’s office. They can be contacted at 866-485-9393.

Minnesota: 

Minnesota recognizes that abuse does not always happen during work hours and that people may need support at any time of the day or night. The Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center should be your first stop in Minnesota for reporting concerns. The number is 844-880-1574 and it is open 24/7. Another option for assistance in Minnesota is the Senior Linkage Line at 800-333-2433. The professionals on this line will get you in contact with relevant local and county-level assistance. 

If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, then you should be reaching out to the State Ombudsman at 800-657-3591 or 651-431-2555. If you need TDD/TTY assistance, dial 711.

Mississippi: 

There are several different hotline numbers that can be used to report suspected elder abuse. If you are calling from in-state, the go-to telephone number is 800-222-8000. If you are calling from out-of-state, use 601-359-4991. In addition, if you are specifically concerned about a situation in one of the State’s care facilities, you can call either 800-227-7308 or 800-852-8341. 

Missouri: 

In Missouri, you are encouraged to call the same reporting number for both in-home and long-term care suspected elder abuse. This number is 800-392-0210. Another point of contact in Missouri can be  the State’s Long-term Care Ombudsman. This office can be reached at 573-526-0727 for local callers and 800-309-3282 for out-of-state callers.  

Montana: 

Montana has a very streamlined process for reporting concerns related to elder abuse within the state. You can dial 800-551-3191 if you are in-state or if you are out-of-state, call 406-444-4077. An alternative method to raise concerns is by calling the State’s Long-term Care Ombudsman at 800-332-2272. Another option is to contact the State’s Senior and Long-term Care Division. They can be reached at 406-444-4077.

Nebraska: 

Nebraska understands that concerns about elder abuse can come up at any time and that there can be emergent situations. Because of this, its hotline number operates 24/7. The number is 800-652-1999. Local law enforcement is also prepared to help concerned individuals.  The State also has a Long-term Care Ombudsman to deal with concerns related to long-term care facilities. This department can be reached at 800-942-7830 or 402-471-2307. 

Nevada: 

Different states define elderly differently. In Nevada, elder abuse protection extends to any individual over the age of 60. There are several hotline numbers that people can use to report suspected abuse. These lines are staffed by intake specialists. For the state as a whole you can call 888-729-0571. In Northern Nevada, an additional number is 775-688-2964. For Southern Nevada, call 702-486-6930. 

New Hampshire: 

New Hampshire offers four different telephone numbers to call to report abuse. For people calling from in-state who are concerned about abuse in a home setting, they should call 800-949-0470. If a person is calling from out-of-state, then they should use 603-271-7014. If the concerns are related to long-term care facilities, then calls should be placed to the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program. For in-state callers, they should call 800-442-5640. And, out-of-state voters should call 603-271-4375. 

New Jersey: 

In New Jersey, reports about suspected abuse are made on a county level. The appropriate county contact details can be found at the Department of Human Services website. In addition to these county-level resources, people are encouraged to call the following numbers if they suspect abuse at long-term care facilities. These numbers are 877-582-6995 and 609-826-5090. 

New Mexico: 

New Mexico offers several different options for people to report suspected abuse against older adults. If the suspected abuse happens at home, then people should use the following numbers 866-654-3219 and 505-476-4912. This is also the number if you suspect that elder abuse is happening in a long-term care facility but it is not being carried out by an employee of the center. 

If you do suspect that it is a long-term care facility employee who is perpetrating the abuse, then call 800-752-8649.  In addition to these numbers, there is also a State Ombudsman for long-term care. This office can be reached at 800-432-2080. If you are in Santa Fe, you can also reach the Ombudsman at the Aging and Disability Resources Center Monday thru Friday at 505-476-4846 or 505-476-4937 TTY.  For Albuquerque, dial toll free 866-842-9230 and in Las Cruces dial toll free 866-451-2901. 

New York: 

There are numerous different ways to report abuse concerns in New York. If a person suspects that an older loved one is being abused in his/her home, then the person should call 844-697-3505 and select option 6. The State has established a second number for concerns about abuse in long-term care facilities. This number is 888-201-4563. There are other approaches too. For example, you can find contact details for local departments of social services and start the reporting process. There is also a State Ombudsman who can be contacted at 855-582-6769. 

North Carolina: 

In North Carolina, most concerns about abuse should be reported on a local or county-level, at least to begin the process. For information on what office to call and their contact details visit the following webpage. You can also visit this website to find out more about the State Ombudsman program

North Dakota: 

North Dakota has an extremely streamlined program. All reports, irrespective of location, can be made by calling 800-462-5465. There is also the opportunity to file abuse reports online. These reports are intake forms to have someone designated as a potentially vulnerable adult and to then get them necessary protection.  

Ohio: 

Compared with some states that do not recognize adults as older until the age of 65, Ohio offers protection to adults over the age of 60. Reports should be filed on a county level. Find the contact details for your local county Department of Job and Family Services. 

Oklahoma: 

Oklahoma has a streamlined reporting process for reporting suspected abuse of older adults. All abuse cases should be reported to 800-522-3511. There is also a State Ombudsman’s program to protect adults over the age of 60 in the State’s long-term care facilities. 

Oregon: 

Oregon recommends that anyone with concerns about potential elder abuse should utilize the State’s hotline number at 855-503-SAFE. In addition, concerned individuals can also reach out to their local county officials in either the Department of Human Services or the Area Agency on Aging. The State also has a robust Ombudsman Program. This program can be reached via 800-522-2602 for in-state calls or at 503-378-6533 for out-of-state individuals. 

Pennsylvania: 

Pennsylvania has a unified reporting hotline for people to call about suspected elder abuse. This number is 800-490-8505. There is also a telephone line exclusively devoted to severe abuse cases or cases that involve sexual abuse. This number is 717-265-7887 at the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. There is one additional hotline number too, 800-254-5164, at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Nursing Home Complaint department. 

Rhode Island: 

Rhode Island has two separate hotline numbers set up to report potential elder abuse. The first telephone number is for possible abuse that has happened at home. In this case, people should call 401-462-0555. If the suspected abuse happens in a long-term care facility, then a call should be placed to 401-785-3340. 

South Carolina:  

Like with many states, South Carolina divides its reporting based on where the suspected abuse occurred. If the abuse happened in a community setting, then a call should be placed to 888-227-3487 (Care4us). On the other hand, if the abuse happened in a long-term care center, then the call should be made to 803-743-9900. Reports can also be made on a county-wide level. 

South Dakota: 

South Dakota has two lines to report suspected abuse. One line at 866-854-5465 is designated for in-state individuals to make reports. Reports by out-of-state voters can be made at 605-773-3656. In addition to this, reports can also be made on a county-wide level. 

Tennessee: 

Tennessee recognizes that many older adults are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, and it looks for ways to actively protect these adults.  There is one centralized hotline to call for these concerns at 1-888-277-8366. Online reports can also be filed with the Tennessee Adult Protection Services. The State also actively reminds concerned individuals to file police reports if they think there is an imminent danger.  

Texas: 

Texas has established a hotline phone number to report suspected elder abuse at 800-252-5400. However, Texas recommends that if a situation is not urgent that concerns should be reported online. These reports will be filed at the Texas Abuse Hotline website which operates under the State’s Department of Family and Protective Services. Other concerns can also be called into the State’s Ombudsman offices. 

Utah: 

Utah has a 24/7 hotline number that people can use to report suspected abuse. This number is 800-371-7897. And, if there is a non-urgent situation, people are encouraged to report potential abuse online. This is done via an intake report form

Vermont: 

Given Vermont’s relatively small population size, the state has only two hotline numbers. One number is for in-state residents to report abuse, 800-564-1612. The other number is for out-of-state reports at 802-241-3918. 

Virginia: 

There are multiple different ways for people to report potential abuse in the state of Virginia. For example, people can call the hotline number at 888-832-3858. Alternatively, reports can be raised on the local or county-wide level. The State also has a robust Ombudsman program. More information about this can be found at 804-565-1600. 

Washington: 

There are multiple potential ways that an individual can report suspected abuse in the state of Washington.  There is a hotline number that is an outstanding starting point for any concerned individual. This number is 866-363-4276 (866-END-HARM). This number is generally used for suspected abuse in a home setting, for long-term care concerns, people should call 800-562-6078. People can also make a report on the county-level. For more information check the contact details for your local office. Another important telephone number to know about is the statewide investigative agency number at 866-363-4276. 

West Virginia: 

The state of West Virginia has numerous hotlines set up for people to file reports about suspected abuse. Unlike many states, West Virginia has a dedicated hotline for suspected financial abuse. This number is 1-866-241-5062. For other concerns, a  24/7 hotline exists at 800-352-6513. Reports can also be made directly to the local relevant county-level organizations. There is also a well-established Ombudsman program across the state.  More information about this can be found on their website.  

Wisconsin: 

Wisconsin looks at potential abuse in two broad categories. For abuse that has happened in a care facility, there are three broad reporting options. First, the State’s Division of Quality Assurance can be called at 800-642-6552. This should be done if you think there are broad problems at a facility. This same claim can be filed online at the Division of Quality Assurance. Reports of this type can also be filed at the Ombudsman Program at 800-815-0015.  The mechanism for filing a complaint looks different if the suspected abuse happened at home. To report this abuse, reach out to the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. 

Wyoming:

There are several telephone numbers that concerned individuals can use to report suspected abuse. For example, in-state reporters can call 800-457-3659. These reports can be filed between 8 am and 5 pm MOnday through Friday.  On the other hand, people from outside the state should call 307-777-3602. In addition to this,  people can call 307-777-7123 if they suspect that abuse happened in a long-term care facility. You can also find more information on their website

Nursing Home Abuse

Adult Protection Services generally works to protect older adults’ well-being who are living independently in their own homes or apartment. For individuals in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, the initial phone call should often be made to a long-term care ombudsman, as noted in the above state-by-state breakdowns. 

Once someone files a report with the Ombudsman, they will likely follow a similar investigative process to the Adult Protection Services that was outlined above. 

The Third Step: What to Do If It Is an Emergency 

The departments mentioned above are familiar with investigating elder abuse. However, these same departments are often swamped with claims that they need to investigate. As a result, this means that the investigation process can be extremely slow. In some cases, you simply do not have the time to wait, particularly if you think your loved one is experiencing physical and/or sexual abuse. In this case, your best call may be directly to 9-1-1. Or, in some states, such as Connecticut, you will want to dial 2-1-1 to make this report.  

They can also investigate the situation. If the police suspect physical and/or sexual abuse, they may be able to put your loved one in contact with domestic and sexual violence organizations that can help your loved one get an order for protection. The process of obtaining these orders may vary dramatically from state-to-state. Some states have more stringent requirements for granting these protective orders. 

The Fourth Step: Follow Up, Follow Up, and then Follow Up Some More 

As noted above, the relevant state departments in your area may be swamped with a large number of case reports. Therefore, it can take far longer than you would like for an investigation to happen. Sometimes, because these are government organizations, bureaucracy and red tape get in the way of getting answers. Therefore, to ensure your loved one’s case does not fall through the proverbial cracks, it is essential to continue to follow up.  

The Fifth Step: Consult a Private Attorney 

A growing number of attorneys across the country are specializing in elder abuse and related issues, reflecting the fact that the American population is aging. There may be numerous circumstances in which you may want to consult an attorney for assistance. Often attorneys can be incredibly helpful in cases of financial abuse, helping a family recoup lost assets. Attorneys may also be useful if it is a paid caretaker who has been the abuser. In these cases, the attorney may suggest suing the caretaker and/or the organization that he/she works for. 

Even though it may seem appealing to reach out to a lawyer to help you solve these problems and protect your vulnerable older adult, there are several caveats to remember here. First, the legal system may be badly backlogged. Second, the legal system can be extremely costly. Not all families have the assets to pursue this course. 

In Conclusion 

Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. This abuse can take many different forms, including neglect and financial and physical abuse. It can often be overwhelming when you begin to suspect that your loved one may be a victim of abuse. Where do you go? Who can you turn to? These feelings of being overwhelmed are natural. Fortunately, there is help available, so consider following the steps outlined above if you feel like one of your loved ones is being abused. 

The Author

Jessica Thomas is a Public Health Professional, Health & Wellness Writer, and Entrepreneur. She has a B.S. in Health Administration with a focus on Aging Studies and an M.D. in Public Health. Before starting her business, Jessica worked for over 3 years as a Program Coordinator and Performance Improvement Leader in a hospital setting. Her roles focused on various senior initiatives such as fall reduction, preventing delirium, and addressing barriers in the healthcare system. Today, Jessica enjoys learning and educating others on aging in place, how tech solutions can help seniors, and health and wellness topics.

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