A young woman and her 89 year-old great-grandmother, who barely weighed 90 lbs., entered the bank to withdraw cash from the older woman’s account. As they left, the teller watched the young woman treating the older woman harshly while impatiently pushing her into the car. The teller reviewed the account and found suspicious transactions. She reported her concerns to APS. When APS visited the home, they found a malnourished and isolated woman with serious untreated medical conditions and almost no food in the home. She required hospitalization.
|The National Elder Mistreatment Study found that one in ten adults over age 65 reported experiencing at least one form of mistreatment — emotional, physical, sexual or potential neglect — in the past year.|
What can you do if you suspect elder or dependent adult abuse? Report it! Elder and dependent adult abuse is an underreported crime. Victims of elder abuse may be too afraid or embarrassed to report. Some victims are prevented by the abuser from reaching out for help. A 2011 report titled “Under the Radar” determined that only one out of 23 or 24 cases of elder abuse are reported. Report abuse to your county APS program or law enforcement. For concerns about abuse in licensed care facilities, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help.
In California, a variety of professionals are mandated to report elder or dependent adult abuse: by telephone immediately or as soon as possible, followed by the written Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse. Mandated reporters include care custodians (a broad category to include protective, public, sectarian, mental health, or private assistance or advocacy agencies or persons providing health services or social services to elders or dependent adults), clergy, APS, law enforcement, health practitioners, banks, and credit unions. The identity of the reporting party is confidential and not disclosed to the victim or the abuser.
Together, we can make our community a place where older and dependent adult residents are safe. It starts with a telephone call.
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Red Flags of Elder Abuse
- Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse
- State of California Adult Protective Services Programs
- State of California Senior Gateway
- Tough Questions About Elder Abuse
Heidi Richardson, LCSW, has worked at Sacramento County Adult Protective Services for 14 years. Heidi investigated over 1000 reports of abuse or neglect for older and dependent adults as an APS Social Worker and currently serves in the capacity of Program Specialist. Before APS, Heidi worked as a domestic violence counselor at Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) in Sacramento.
Adult Protective Services (APS) is a state mandated program dedicated to maintaining the health and safety of elder adults (65 years and older) and dependent adults (18-64 who are disabled) subjected to neglect, abuse, or exploitation, or who are unable to protect their own interests. APS services are available in all 58 California counties, to any person, regardless of income. APS is a voluntary program. Services cannot be imposed on a person, except in the following situations when a person may not be able to protect himself or herself:
- If an elder or dependent adult is confused, in danger, and unaware of the situation;
- If the report involves a crime against an elder or dependent adult.