What Happens When You Report Possible Elder Abuse?
What happens when you report possible elder abuse depends on who you reported to and what their investigation determined. Unfortunately, reporting nursing home abuse or neglect does not always ensure the victim’s safety.
To truly ensure the safety and well-being of a loved one who may be suffering abuse, you may need to seek help from someone who understands this complex area of the law and can help you get the resources necessary to help the victim.
How Do You Report Possible Elder Abuse?
If you become aware that an elderly person is in immediate or life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately.
If you know or even suspect that someone is suffering abuse from a caregiver, nursing home, or another party, you have options for making a report. Consider contacting one of the following resources:
- Local law enforcement authorities
- Local adult protective services (APL)
- Local long-term care ombudsman
- Other eldercare resources
Although you do not have to provide your name or any personal information, be prepared to answer questions about the situation. The individual or agency you contact may want to know basic information such as:
- Whether you believe the victim is being abused or neglected
- Any health conditions or medical problems the victim has
- Details regarding the nature of the suspected abuse
- Family contacts or support resources available to the victim
If the victim is a nursing home resident, you could notify a facility administrator. However, before doing so, consider talking to the police or APL first. In some cases, the abuser may take retaliatory action against the elderly victim. You may also want to consider talking to an elder or nursing home abuse lawyer to learn more about your options.
If you are an older adult who is being abused, tell someone. You can call the authorities or if you prefer, confide in someone you trust such as:
- Your doctor or another medical care provider
- A trusted friend or family member
- Your clergyperson or spiritual leader
- Someone you know in the community
What Happens Next When You Report Potential Elder Abuse?
Based on the circumstances of the suspected abuse and who you reported to, a qualified responder will likely be sent to interview the victim. If the interviewer determines that abuse may be occurring, they may contact family members or refer appropriate resources.
If the victim is not forthcoming or unable to communicate effectively with the interviewer, they may not be able to take any action. In that case, it may be up to you to take further action to protect the victim.
Next steps to consider include:
- Removing the victim from the situation and moving them to a safe location
- Reaching out to elder abuse or care resources to learn more about your options
If you cannot get the cooperation and assistance you need from local resources or agencies, talking to a legal professional may be the most effective way to get the victim help.
Who Commits Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse may occur at the hands of any caregiver, including family members and in-home care providers.
In the nursing home or residential care setting, elderly people may suffer any type of abuse at the hands of doctors, nurses, facility employees, other residents, or visitors. However, because nursing homes must provide a safe environment and reasonable care for residents, the facility may be liable for any injuries the victim suffers.
Who Should Report Possible Elder Abuse?
If your state mandates reporting, most medical care providers have an obligation to report suspected elder abuse. If they fail to report potential abuse, they can be liable for any injuries and damages the victim may later suffer.
However, whether your state requires mandated reporting or not, any person who becomes aware of possible abuse has a moral obligation to report the situation.
What if You Need Help Getting an Abused Loved One to Safety?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can help you find resources to move your loved one to safety. You can call 1-800-677-1116 for a referral to a local agency. This hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. If your loved one or another resident is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1.
A lawyer can help you explore your options and make the best choice for your loved one. They can also investigate the circumstances of the victim’s abuse, determine who is liable, and hold that party accountable. Recovering compensation for elder abuse will help you secure the victim’s future and ensure the resolution of any potential legal issues that could arise.
To learn more about your options or to take advantage of your free consultation and case evaluation, call now at 1-800-516-4783.