Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
June 15th is Elder Abuse Awareness Day and there are an estimated 214,000 cases of elder abuse in Ohio each year. But the majority of cases do not get reported.
Unfortunately, abused seniors are often fearful of what may happen if they tell someone and rarely discuss abuse. Instead, they may attempt to hide or downplay injuries. At KNR, we want to bring these issues to light and provide some helpful information.
First and foremost, if you believe an older loved one is a victim of elder abuse, reach out to our highly skilled Ohio nursing home lawyers.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse comes in many forms and can be at the hands of spouses, children, or other family members as well as by the staff at nursing homes, assisted living centers, hospitals, and other facilities.
Here are some of the various types of elder abuse:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse relates to any pain or injury upon a senior citizen.
- Emotional abuse: Threats of abuse, verbal assaults, harassment, and intimidation all fall under the category of emotional abuse.
- Sexual abuse: Touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with a senior when they have not given consent, cannot understand, or are physically forced is considered sexual abuse.
- Neglect: Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide a senior with food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessities.
- Financial abuse: Stealing money or property from an older adult, forging their signature on checks, and charging purchases on their credit cards without their consent are all types of financial abuse.
Abuse by a Caregiver
Elder abuse is usually associated with the stress of a caregiver. Ohio estimated that about 115,000 seniors experience abuse, neglect or financial exploitation at the hands of a caregiver
While being a caregiver is stressful, caregivers do not have the right to take their stress out on seniors and engage in abuse. Rather than being an isolated event, elder abuse is often a pattern of behavior that happens over time and targets a specific senior.
Who is at Risk of Elder Abuse?
There are some older adults that are more susceptible to elder abuse than others. For instance, elder abuse is more common in females than in males.
Common risk factors of elder abuse include low social support, low income or poverty, living with several family members, poor physical health, disability, mental illness, and dependency on others for care.
Previous trauma, dementia, or another cognitive impairment, fear, inability to communicate, substance abuse, and frailty may also increase the chances of elder abuse.
Ohio’s Elder Abuse Reporting Law
Under Ohio’s elder abuse law, professionals must report elder abuse.
This includes pharmacists, outpatient health facilities employees, firefighters, ambulance drivers, first responders, building inspectors, certified public accountants, bank and credit union employees, and real estate agents are also required to report cases of elder abuse in the state.
Financial planners, notary publics, and investment advisors fall under this expanded list of professionals as well.
How to Report Elder Abuse in Ohio
If you suspect an adult age 60 or older is a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Ohio, it is important to file a report with the Department of Job and Family Services in your county.
You can do this by phone, mail, fax, or in-person during the agency’s business hours. If you prefer, you can call 1-855-OHIO-APS toll-free at any time.
To file a report, you’ll need to provide the following:
- Name, address, and age of the senior
- Name and address of the individual caring for the older adult
- The name and address of the individual you believe is causing the abuse
- The reason you believe the abuse, neglect, or exploitation is occurring
- Any other details related to the case
Keep in mind that you do not need evidence to report suspected elder abuse in Ohio. You can file a report as long as you have a reasonable cause to believe that an older adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited.
Additionally, it is not your responsibility to determine whether the abuse is actually occurring so you don’t have to worry about collecting and providing evidence. The Department of Job and Family Services and/or an elder abuse attorney will take care of this.
What Does the Adult Protective Services Do in Ohio?
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services supervises the Adult Protective Services (APS) in the state.
APS is designed to assist vulnerable older adults who are 60 or older and in danger of harm, unable to protect themselves, and may not have anyone to help them. They respond to reports of elder abuse, investigate allegations, work with seniors to address their needs, and help prevent future abuse.
APS workers are required to consider their right to self-determination. Often, it can be a real challenge to find a balance between a senior’s safety and right to self-determination. Contrary to popular belief, the role of the APS is not to take seniors out of their homes and place them in nursing home facilities to protect them.
Contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick
If you suspect your senior loved one has been abused, it is in your best interest to consult our experienced Ohio nursing home abuse attorneys. We know how difficult it can be to watch someone you love get mistreated and are here to fight for their rights.