Mrs. Blake’s mother seems to be falling often and ends up with black and blue marks on her arms and face. She seems a little withdrawn. Mrs. Blake begins to question her further when they are alone and discovers that her mother’s aide has been hitting her when she does not take her meds or cooperate in care. She decides to document the abuse and report it. Many times it is family members who do the abusing. Someone may want access to the elder’s money or is overwhelmed with caregiving and becomes abusive. Caregiver burnout can initiate abuse.
Elderly Abuse is defined as the infliction of physical, sexual or emotional injury or harm, including financial exploitation by any person, firm or corporation. There are different levels of abuse which could be different in each state so check with your state Attorney General. In Missouri, elder abuse is described in the first, second and third degree. First and second degree involve physical harm. Third degree involves grave emotional distress as well as threats and intimidation. In a long term care facility, any person who knowingly abuses or neglects a resident of a facility shall be guilty of a Class D felony.
Check with your state’s Department of Social Services for the Elder Abuse Hotline. After the Department receives a report of abuse, it conducts an investigation to determine the extent of the abuse. If protective services are needed, the department will diagnose and evaluate the needs of the abused individual. They provide casework, counseling and assistance in locating alternative living arrangements, if necessary. If the person in need of services is unable to give consent, the director of the Department of Social Services will petition the courts for a guardian for the person.
Anyone who reports abuse will be held harmless from prosecution if they made the report in good faith and cooperate with the investigation. The identity of the reporter will not be disclosed except with permission or by court order. Any person making a report will need to give the alleged person’s name and address, an account of what they witnessed and when it happened, and who they suspect the abuser is. An abused adult may file a complaint in court and, if good cause is demonstrated, an ex parte order of protection will be issued. This will prevent the abusive person from entering the complainant’s home and restrain them for further abusing, threatening, molesting or harassing the complainant. If the abuser does not comply, they will face arrest.