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TroveStreet® Wisdom: Reporting Elder Abuse

Sources:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention and York County Protective Services

When an older adult is at risk of harm or death, or their money or assets are at risk of being stolen and misused, it is elder abuse. To report elder abuse in York County, call the Older Adult Protective Service Program of the York County Area Agency on Aging at 717-771-9610 or 1-800-632-9073.

Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older. The abuse occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts.

Per the CDC, common types of elder abuse include:

  • Physical abuse is when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress, or death as a result of the intentional use of physical force and includes acts such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, and burning.
  • Sexual abuse involves forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an older adult. This may include unwanted sexual contact or penetration or non-contact acts such as sexual harassment.
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress on an older adult. Examples include humiliation or disrespect, verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment, and geographic or interpersonal isolation.
  • Neglect is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.
  • Financial Abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.

Per York County’s Protective Services, elder abuse affects individuals of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and social settings. Social isolation, some illnesses, and disabilities that may be associated with aging can increase one’s risk of experiencing abuse.  Elder abuse occurs most frequently in private homes but can also occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Those who abuse can be family members, intimate partners, caregivers, neighbors, fellow residents, or trusted others.

Per the CDC, elder abuse is a serious problem in the United States.  The available information is an underestimate of the problem because the number of nonfatal injuries is limited to older adults who are treated in emergency departments. The information doesn’t include those treated by other providers or those that do not need or do not seek treatment. Additionally, many cases are not reported because elders are afraid or unable to tell police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims have to decide whether to tell someone they are being hurt or continue being abused by someone they depend upon or care for deeply.

Elder abuse can have several physical and emotional effects on an older adult. Victims are fearful and anxious. They may have problems with trust and be wary of others. Many victims suffer physical injuries. Some are minor, like cuts, scratches, bruises, and welts. Others are more serious and can cause lasting disabilities. These include head injuries, broken bones, constant physical pain, and soreness. Physical injuries can also lead to premature death and make existing health problems worse.

The CDC offers the following tips to help prevent elder abuse:

  • Listen to older adults and their caregivers to understand their challenges and provide support.
  • Report abuse or suspected abuse to local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or the police. To report elder abuse in York County, call the Older Adult Protective Service Program of the York County Area Agency on Aging at 717-771-9610 or 1-800-632-9073
  • Educate oneself and others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.
  • Learn how the signs of elder abuse differ from the normal aging process.
  • Check-in on older adults who may have few friends and family members.
  • Provide over-burdened caregivers with support such as help from friends, family, or local relief care groups; adult day care programs; counseling; outlets intended to promote emotional well-being.
  • Encourage and assist persons (either caregivers or older adults) having problems with drug or alcohol abuse in getting help.

If you suspect To report elder abuse in York County, call the Older Adult Protective Service Program of the York County Area Agency on Aging at 717-771-9610 or 1-800-632-9073.

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