What is Elder Abuse?

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What is Elder Abuse?

Abuse occurs when a disabled adult’s caretaker causes physical or mental pain, unreasonable confinement, or willful deprivation. 

Signs of Abuse:

  • Unusual or unexplained bruises, welts, fractures or burns
  • Bedsores, unexplained weight loss, abnormally dry skin or lips
  • Inadequate shelter or medical care
  • Inappropriate clothing for weather or conditions
  • Any willful confinement in a dangerous environment.

Exploitation occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses a disabled adult’s resources.

Signs of Exploitation:

  • Unexplained withdrawal of money from bank accounts
  • Use of deceit, treachery, or coercion to obtain money or assets
  • Unusual interest by anyone in the disabled adult’s assets
  • Difference between assets and lifestyle
  • Unusually large payments for services
  • Mismanagement of funds
  • Failure to pay for essential services
     

Self-Neglect occurs when a disabled adult lives alone or has no caretaker and is not able to care for him or herself.

Signs of Self Neglect:

  • Aimless wandering at night
  • Forgetfulness– such as forgetting to turn the stove on or off
  • Inability to cook, eat, bathe, toilet, dress or care for oneself
  • Weight loss or dehydration
  • Causing small fires
  • Inappropriate use of medications
  • Living in an unsafe environment
     

Caretaker Neglect occurs when a disabled adult’s caretaker fails to provide the necessary services to avoid physical harm and maintain mental and physical health.

Signs of Caregiver Neglect:

  • Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or attention to personal and incidental needs
  • Failure to manage resources to meet disabled adult’s needs
  • Failure to provide supervision and a safe living environment
  • Failure to provide for or arrange for medical needs 
     

 Report Elder Abuse!

Who Reports? YOU DO! If you suspect that someone you know is at risk or is the victim of elder abuse, you must report the suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services at your local Department of Social or Human Services. If you are concerned that an older or disabled adult is in immediate danger, call 911 right away.

Why Report? Because it’s the law! North Carolina law requires reporting when anyone suspects that an older or disabled adult is being abused, neglected or exploited. The reporter’s name is always kept confidential and reporters are protected from civil and criminal liability for good faith reports.

What Information Will I Need?

 Provide as much information as you have, but do not let lack of information stop you from making a report.

  • Name, address, age or date of birth of the individual 
  •  Caregiver’s name (if any) 
  •  Explanation of the situation 
  •  Mental or physical condition of the individual 
  •  Names of others who may have information

Where to Report? Your county Department of Social Services-Adult Protective Services. If you need contact information for the Adult Protective Services Department in your county, go the N.C. Division of Social Services County referral website and click on the county where the person needing assistance lives.

For suspected abuse in Nursing Homes, contact the Division of Health Service Regulation. For suspected abuse in Adult Care Homes, contact the local Department of Social Services in the county where the affected person lives.

 Department of Social Services – Adult Protective Services Contacts:

Alamance County    (336) 229-2908
 Caswell County  (336) 694-4141
 Davidson County  (336) 242-2500
 Davie County  (336) 751-8800
 Forsyth County  (336) 703-3503
 Guilford County  (336) 641-3137
 Montgomery County  (910) 576-6531
 Randolph County  (336) 683-8000
 Rockingham County  (336) 342-1394
 Stokes County  (336) 593-2861
 Surry County  (336) 401-8800
 Yadkin County  (336) 679-4210

What Makes Some Older Adults Vulnerable to Abuse?

  • They rely on the abusive party for care. 
  • They may feel financially responsible for the abusive party. 
  • Greater cultural tolerance for family violence among their generation: “You lie in the bed you made.” 
  •  They have multiple fears such as alienation of family and loved ones, isolation, lack of transportation, fear of dying, and fear of dying alone.