According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, between one and two million Americans aged 65 and older have been abused, mistreated or neglected by their caregivers or someone they know. Because the signs of elder abuse can be confused with common symptoms of aging, such as physical frailty and dementia, elder abuse is largely under-reported, and many elderly Americans continue to suffer at the hands of abusers. If you suspect that an elderly person is a victim of elder abuse, take the appropriate steps to protect that individual.
Observe carefully and clearly identify what type of abuse is occurring and who is perpetrating the abuse so you can provide complete information to the authorities when reporting elder abuse. Elder abuse may be physical abuse or neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and/or health care fraud.
Contact your professional governing body or state attorney general to determine whether you are a mandatory reporter. In most states, if you are a professional caregiver or other professional who works with the elderly, you may have not only a moral but also a legal obligation to report elder abuse.
Report suspected abuse to your local adult protective services agency, which will launch an investigation. Contact the National Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to find the contact information for your community's adult protective services agency.
Abby began writing professionally in 2008. Her writing experience includes scholarly writing and articles for eHow. Abby enjoys writing brief how-to articles on legal issues. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Nebraska.