PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This blog is as meaningful today as it was when we originally posted it on December 7, 2019. If you suspect elder abuse, please contact your local Adult Protective Services at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, toll free hotline at 1-855-644-6277.
Prevalence Of Elder Abuse On The Rise – The Signs To Look For And Contact Information
With the population of senior citizens increasing at a rapid rate, so is the prevalence of elder abuse. It is important to understand what constitutes elder abuse, looking for signs of elder abuse, who must report elder abuse and what you can do to help.
Elder abuse is knowingly or negligently causing harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Abuse includes neglect (where basic needs aren’t being met), exploitation (usually financial), physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.
According to the Ohio Department of Aging, signs to look for include bruises, cuts or other physical harm, sudden behavior changes such as becoming less social, a caregiver who refuses to allow visitors to see the adult alone, unsafe or unclean living conditions, overuse or under-use of prescription medicine, poor personal hygiene or dehydration or malnutrition, previously uninvolved relatives showing sudden interest in the adult’s rights, affairs and possessions, unexplained sudden transfers of assets or finances to an individual, abrupt changes in a will, financial documents, bank accounts or banking practice or unexplained disappearances of funds or valuable possessions.
What if you suspect elder abuse?
Certain individuals have an obligation to report elder abuse. Prior to recent changes in the law, that list included attorneys, physicians, hospital employees, home health care agencies, nursing homes, clergy, social workers and peace officers. The list has recently been expanded to include investment advisors, bank employees, firefighters, accountants, real estate brokers and salespeople and notaries.
Those individuals in the aforementioned categories who have a reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited must report it immediately to the county department of family services. Those same individuals who have a reasonable cause to believe that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation may report it to the county department of family services. Others, although not required by law should report elder abuse if one has reasonable cause to believe that it is occurring.
Who do I contact?
If you suspect abuse is occurring, you should contact your local Adult Protective Services, supervised by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. You can contact your local county agency or the state’s toll free hotline number at 1-855-644-6277. The only way to stem the rapid increase in abuse is for all of us to do our part and not turn the other way but report any suspected instances to the proper authorities.
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Joseph E. Balmer
Joseph Balmer manages the Probate, Trust and Estate Administration department at Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has been certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law since 2006.