When concerned about the livelihood of an elderly person, the most important way you can help the elder is to maintain consistent contact. If you suspect elder abuse, negligence, or self neglect, reporting elder abuse is the next step. While filing an elder abuse report, you first must identify the method of reporting elder abuse. There are a number of different hotlines or elder care organizations that you can contact for help. By calling your local authorities directly, you may be able to get detailed guidance on how to report elder abuse in your area.
A person can report elder abuse through any of the following methods:
– When reporting elder abuse in non-severe cases, contact the elder’s healthcare team, such as social workers, family doctors, or hospitals.
– Use the Elder Care Locator to find assistance in your area online, or call their hotline at 1-800-677-1116. The hotline number is available Monday – Friday, from 9AM to 8PM EST.
– Visit the state resources section of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) website, which is a sector of the Administration on Aging provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state resources page of the NCEA website will help you identify the best person to contact in your area for reporting elder abuse. Do not report elder abuse directly to the NCEA.
– Visit the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence (NCCAFV) website, and select your state from the list on the State Elder Abuse Hotlines page. Some U.S. territories or states will offer several options for contacting the local Adult Protective Services.
– When reporting elder abuse in severe cases, call 911 to contact the local police for immediate assistance.
– After reporting elder abuse, it is critical to seek legal aid in your area.
Details in Elder Abuse Reports
While reporting elder abuse, the next step will be to ensure that your report is specific. Do not simply state, “I suspect a person is experiencing elder physical abuse.” It is better to describe your concerns in detail, such as, “I have noticed an elderly neighbor has bruises wrapping around the arms. The bruises never seem to heal. The elder is withdrawn and does not enjoy gardening like before. The elder’s caregiver doesn’t let neighbors visit the elder anymore. When I brought over a cake for the elder’s birthday last week, the caregiver would not let me in the home. The house smelled of urine, feces, and accumulated trash.”
Concerns after Reporting Elder Abuse
Reporting elder abuse is a delicate problem. If you suspect elder abuse or elder self neglect, it is important to help in any way you can. Sometimes, an older person may assume that having an abusive caregiver is better than having no caregiver at all. The elderly person may worry that he or she will be forced to move into an assisted living facility after help is sought. The elderly person may even feel embarrassed about his or her current living situation.
Abusive Caregiver vs. No Caregiver
After reporting elder abuse, if the elder assumes that an abusive caregiver is better than not having a caregiver, problems can arise. The elder may feel that help is not needed or not wanted. If the elder does not think that there are better options than his or her current living situation, there are still ways to help. Spend time with the elder. Drive him or her to other adult care facilities. Show the elder that there are opportunities to create a safer, happier home.
Fear of Assisted Living Facilities
The elder may fear nursing homes or adult care facilities, even after reporting elder abuse. If the elder already lives in adult care facility, he or she may fear that a different one could be worse. Moving to a new place, regardless of the facility, brings changes that the elderly person may not feel prepared for. Take the elder on tours of local assisted living facilities, without any pressure or timeline of plans to move. Simply spend time speaking with the doctors, patients, and viewing the rooms or amenities. The elder may feel differently after spending time around similar people that are enjoying better living conditions.
Embarrassment of Elder Abuse or Neglect
Many older people feel an embarrassment if they experience elder abuse, negligence, or self neglect. A certain degree of pride is felt during younger years, when the person may have taken care of children or pets. As age increases, the elder loses certain physical capabilities. That person can feel robbed of his or her independence.
Elders may experience a loss of freedoms that they had in younger years. Some elders have reported feeling as if the abuse reflects poorly on their own character. They feel as if it is their fault they have experienced elder abuse or neglect. It is important to talk with elders, to show that they are needed, valued, and loved. If necessary, seeking professional assistance from a psychologist or counselor can help an elderly person adapt to his or her new lifestyle.
Refusing Elder Abuse Help
If you report elder abuse, and it is discovered that the elderly person is in need of assistance, the person may still refuse help. As with any American adult citizen, an elderly person that possesses full mental health has the right to refuse help. Reporting elderly abuse runs the risk that the person will deny assistance, and the elder’s abuser may become aware of the investigation. However, failure to report elder abuse carries far greater risks.
Elder Help on a Trial Basis
One of the best ways to convince an elderly person to make changes after reporting elder abuse is to suggest a trial month of getting assistance. This may equate to a trial period in an assisted living facility. Having an adult care nurse visit the elder person’s home several times a week is another great option. The important part is to emphasize that there isn’t any pressure to make a decision or to make permanent plans. The elder is simply trying a new method, with the goal of improving day to day life.
Elders Coping with Change
As people age, it is not necessary to continue excelling at the tasks that were once performed every day. However, it is critical for a person to identify new opportunities to grow, learn, or develop. In this way, the individual can recognize new areas of value. The individual will be more likely to adapt and find fulfillment through his or her evolving skills. An elder can still benefit the local community in this way, which brings renewed purpose to life and allows for continued social interaction. This is one of the best ways an elderly person can avoid depression and self neglect. If you are concerned about an elderly person’s emotional state, seek professional assistance and try to help the elder identify new ways to feel valued in the community.
Florida. Department of Children and Families. Report Elder Abuse. Department of Elder Affairs, 2011. Web. http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/report_abuse.php
Robinson, Lawrence, and Joanna Saisan. “Reporting Elder Abuse.” Help Guide. Harvard Health Publications, n.d. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/reporting_elder_abuse.htm
“State Elder Abuse Hotlines.” n.pag. National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.nccafv.org/state_elder_abuse_hotlines.htm
United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Elder Care Locator. Department of Aging, 2013. Web. http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.net/Public/Index.asp&xgt
United States. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center on Elder Abuse: Stop Abuse. Department of Aging, 2013. Web. http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/stop_abuse/index.asp&xgt