Seniors often need daily assistance or ongoing home care, making them dependent on family, friends, medical providers, and nursing staff. While most people wouldn’t dream of abusing an elderly person, a shocking 10 percent of Americans over age 60 have been victims of elder abuse. The lack of reporting is even more alarming, with an estimated 13 out of 14 cases going unreported. This means only 7 percent of elder abuse victims get the help they need.
Why is Reporting Elder Abuse So Important?
Don’t keep quiet about the neglect and mistreatment you see! Reporting elder abuse benefits everyone. Here’s how:
- Victimized seniors can get treatment for their injuries.
- Abusive individuals can be identified and removed from situations with vulnerable adults.
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can improve training or enact policies to ensure elder abuse doesn’t happen again.
- Older adults can seek compensation for medical bills, financial harm, pain and suffering, and other damages with help from an elder abuse attorney.
- Society can better understand the problem of elder abuse and take steps to combat it.
How to Report Cases of Elder Abuse
One way to curb widespread underreporting is to learn how to report signs of elder abuse. The recommended steps depend on the situation and your relationship with the abused.
- If an older person you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger, remove them from the situation and call 911. Then, document the harm you discovered. Take pictures of physical injuries, neglected living quarters, or inappropriate restraints.
- If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect abuse, relay your concerns to the police, New Jersey Adult Protective Services (APS) in your county, or your loved one’s long-term care advocate. Take notes regarding any abuse you witness or behavioral changes you observe when the suspected abuser approaches the senior.
- If you are the victim, tell your doctor, a family member, or a friend you trust. You can also call the Eldercare Locator helpline at 1-800-677-1116, and a trained operator will refer you to a local agency for help.
- If you’re a nurse, doctor, or home health provider, you are legally required to report suspected elderly abuse or neglect. Nursing homes should report abuse to the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- If you don’t know the person, you should still report any evidence of abuse. To report elder mistreatment in the home, contact New Jersey APS. To report suspected elderly abuse in a long-term care facility, call 1-877-582-6995 (in-state line) or 609-943-4023 (out-of-state line).
If you or an elderly loved one has been victimized, reporting the incident is just the first step. You can also seek compensation for your injuries—physical or otherwise—by contacting an elder abuse lawyer at Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC. We have over 70 years of experience as an elder abuse attorney in New Jersey, so we’re more than capable of helping you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 862-263-0770 or contact us online to schedule your free, one-hour consultation. A Spanish translator is available upon request.