Reporting elder abuse can feel daunting, overwhelming, and even a bit scary. Each state will have different laws and ways of reporting based on the location that the abuse took place. Know that by stepping in, you could potentially be saving someone's life.
How to Report Abuse
Elder abuse can be seen in nursing homes, out in public, in hospitals, and in other elderly centered care facilities. Never assume that because someone is a professional caretaker or licensed doctor or mental health professional that they are not capable of abuse. If you suspect or know of an elderly person being abused, you have a few options when it comes to reporting it.
Start off by noting the time, date, and location of the abuse. Without putting yourself in danger, try to get as much identifying information as possible. As quickly as you can, report the abuse by:
- Contacting the police by calling 9-1-1 if the individual is in imminent danger
- Reporting the abuse to the police if the individual is not in imminent danger, but you'd like to file a report
- Contacting your state's Adult Protective Services, or Elderly Protective Services (look on your community's website to find these numbers for your area)
- Reporting the abuse to an ombudsman
- Reporting based on your state's regulations via telephone or online
- Your local senior community center or similar place will have resources and even someone to walk you through the process
Information Needed for the Report
After selecting a method to make the report, you will be asked several questions about yourself, the victim, as well as the perpetrator. You can request to stay anonymous for safety reasons if you're nervous about the perpetrator finding out your identity. To make a report, you will need to give the social worker or officer as much information as you possibly can. You will probably be asked:
- Your name, relationship to the victim, and other identifying information about yourself
- The victim's name, date of birth, and home address
- The perpetrator's name, approximate age, home address, relationship to the victim and current location
- To describe the incident and note whether it resulted in a death
- The type of abuse that occurred and how frequently it has occurred
- If there were any injuries sustained
Don't worry if you do not have all the above information. The most important thing to do is give the officer or social worker as much information as you possibly can, so they can open up a file on the perpetrator. Even if you don't have some information regarding the perpetrator, you may have given enough information to trigger an investigation. Remember it is not your job to investigate any sort of abuse and always be mindful of your safety.
Reporting elder abuse can be a lifesaving action to take. Remember to gather as much information as you can without putting yourself in harm's way. If you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed afterward, be sure to engage in appropriate self-care and know that reporting abuse is a brave action to take.