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Elder Abuse Awareness

woman with a bruised armElder abuse is a growing problem nationally, in the State of Ohio and in Cuyahoga County. In 2014, it was estimated that more than 12,606 seniors were victims of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, in Cuyahoga County. Unfortunately, only a small number of those cases were ever reported to Adult Protective Services (APS). In the United States, only about 1 of every 5 cases of elder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation is reported to Adult Protective Services, annually.

You can help spot elder abuse.

Warning signs to watch out for:

  • Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing 
  • Lack of medical aids (glasses, walker, teeth, hearing aid, medications) 
  • Person with dementia left unsupervised 
  • Person confined to bed is left without care 
  • Home cluttered, filthy, in disrepair, or having fire and safety hazards 
  • Home without adequate facilities (stove, refrigerator, heat, cooling, working plumbing, and electricity) 
  • Untreated pressure “bed” sores (pressure ulcers) 

elderly man looking downFinancial abuse/exploitation
  • Lack of amenities victim could afford 
  • Vulnerable elder/adult “voluntarily” giving uncharacteristically excessive financial reimbursement/gifts for needed care and companionship 
  • Caregiver has control of elder’s money but is failing to provide for elder’s needs 
  • Vulnerable elder/adult has signed property transfers (Power of Attorney, new will, etc.) but is unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means 

Psychological/emotional abuse
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, other 
  • Caregiver isolates elder (doesn’t let anyone into the home or speak to the elder) 
  • Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, overly concerned about spending money, or uncaring 

Physical/sexual abuse
  • Inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns 
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases 

What should I do if I suspect abuse?

elderly woman sitting downReport your concerns.
Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. The agency receiving the report will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more. You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicion

If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation or immediate danger, call 911 or the local police or sheriff.

To report an incident of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, please call the Department of Senior and Adult Services intake line at (216) 420-6700 or go to the Adult Protective Services On-Line Referral site.