Law & Ethics
Elder abuse is when a caregiver seriously harms an elderly person physically or emotionally, or steals or misuses the money or property of an elderly person. Elder abuse can also be self-inflicted if an elderly person living alone doesn't take care of his or her own basic needs. Anyone age 60 or older is protected by elder abuse laws. Separate laws apply to seniors living at home, and to seniors living in nursing homes. There are no income limits for elder protective services.
_Elder abuse can be:_
emotional or verbal abuse
self-abuse, when a senior is living alone and doesn't properly care for him/herself
_WHO CAN REPORT ELDER ABUSE?_
Anyone can report elder abuse. If you, or a senior you know, is being abused or in danger of being abused, you should report it. If the elder is being abused by a coworker you would report it to your nurse manager or Director of Nursing. If you suspect a family member of abuse you should report it to your superior then directly call Adult Protective Services. Some people are required by law to report elder abuse, but anyone who believes an elder is suffering or has died as a result of abuse can and should report the abuse. Seniors can even report self-abuse, if they are living alone and unable to care for themselves. Laws require doctors, nurses, podiatrists, dentists, social workers, police and other emergency responders, elder outreach workers, directors of home health agencies, and certain other workers to report elder abuse. If any of these mandated reporters knows of elder abuse and doesn't report it, that person can be fined. A mandated reporter must call to report the abuse right away, and must file a written report, within 48 hours. In an emergency where there is immediate danger, call 911.
In non-emergency situations, you should call your local designated Protective Services agency and ask for Protective Services: The Elder Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
_When you call, you should give as much of the following information as possible:_
the name and address of the senior
the senior's age
the type of abuse
any medical treatment the senior is receiving
the name of the person you are reporting for abuse, if any
anything else you think is important to report
You may give your name and address if you choose, but you do not have to give this information. Your report will remain confidential, and the senior and person reported for abuse will not be told your name. For nursing home abuse, you should call the Long Term Care Ombudsman serving your area. A Protective Services caseworker will investigate the report to determine the type and extent of abuse. When needed, the caseworker will work with the senior and caregivers to develop a protective service care plan. Services may include counseling, legal services, home health care, transportation, housing, and safety planning. Every staff member has a professional and moral duty to report any witnessed or suspected abuse to their line manager. This information should be referred to Social Services and every reported case must be assessed as a matter of urgency to determine an appropriate course of action. It is possible that an older person with mental health needs may directly disclose to you that they have been abused. Even if the older person is considered to be confused, such disclosures should be taken seriously. Listen carefully to what you are being told, and even if it sounds fanciful do not dismiss it. Although some older people with mental health needs may experience memory loss, cognitive impairment or delusional thoughts, it is also possible that they have been abused in the way they describe, or that something else distressing has occurred. Be reassuring, try to understand what may have happened, but do...
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