As our population ages, elder abuse is becoming one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. More than two million elderly Americans are victims of neglect or mistreatment every year. Those are the cases that are reported. Experts estimate that for every case of elder abuse that comes to the attention of professionals, as many as 14 cases go unreported.
What is elder abuse? Elder abuse is an act or omission which results in serious physical or emotional injury or financial exploitation of a person over the age of 60. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
As of July 1, 2004 self- neglecting elders are now served under the Protective Services program. Self-neglect is defined as the inability or resistance of an elder to meet their own physical, psychological or social needs without which the elder would be unable to safely remain in the community. Problems may include:
Who reports elder abuse? Anyone can make a report of abuse- neighbors, friends, family, etc. The people listed below are Mandated Reporters and must make a report if they have reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person is suffering from or has died as the result of a reportable condition.
- not having enough food, money, shelter, or medical care.
- substance abuse, depression, confusion or fear.
- language barriers preventing them from accessing needed assistance.
- danger of losing housing.
- no support from family or friends, or reluctance to accept help.
Reasonable cause to believe is a judgment based on specific facts, observed or obtained from reliable sources, that an abusive act probably took place or an abusive condition probably exists.
Mandated Reporters subject to a fine:
|Licensed social worker
||Licensed physical therapist
|Licensed physician's assistant
||Public employee who meets licensing requirements
|Licensed registered nurse
||Licensed practical nurse
|Licensed occupational therapist
|| Emergency medical technician
|Executive director of a homemaker service agency
Failure to report will result in a fine of not more than $1000.
What is Done? Interventions provided by the Protective Service staff include, but are not limited to, receiving reports of adult abuse, exploitation, or neglect, investigating these reports, case planning, monitoring and evaluation. In addition to casework services, staff may provide or arrange for the provision of medical, social, economic, legal, housing, law enforcement, or other protective, emergency or supportive services.
If you need to report a case of elder abuse then you should call the Protective Services Unit of Elder Services of Worcester Area at 508-852-3205 between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday or statewide 24-hour hotline at 1-800-922-2275. This agency is designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to deal with all complaints of elder abuse. Mandated reporters are required to follow up on all verbal reports with a written report.
Elder Services investigates reports of abuse and provides protective services to elders who reside in the Elder Services of Worcester service area with the addition of Northboro, Marlboro, Southboro, Westboro and Hudson.
No mandated reporter is liable in any civil or criminal action by reason of submitting a report. No other person making a report is liable in any civil or criminal action if the report is made in good faith. Anonymity of reporter is protected.
Click here to see Frequently Asked Questions about Protective Services