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Reporting Abuse

Each one of us has a responsibility to keep vulnerable elders safe from harm. The laws in most states require helping professions in the front lines—such as doctors and home health providers—to report suspected abuse or neglect. These professionals are called mandated reporters. Under the laws of eight states, “any person” is required to report a suspicion of mistreatment.

Call the police or 9-1-1 immediately if someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger.

If you have been the victim of abuse, exploitation, or neglect, you are not alone. Many people care and can help. Please tell your doctor, a friend, or a family member you trust, or call the Adult Protective Services program in your area. Relay your concerns to the local Adult Protective Services, Long-term Care Ombudsman, or police. If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone.

You can reach the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116. Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions.

When making the call, be ready to give the name, address, and contact information of the person you suspect is abused or neglected, and details about why you are concerned.

You may be asked a series of questions to gain more insight into the nature of the situation.

  • Are there any known medical problems (including confusion or memory loss)?
  • What kinds of family or social supports are there?
  • Have you seen or heard incidents of yelling, hitting, or other abusive behavior?

You will be asked for your name, address, telephone number, etc., but most states will take the report even if you do not identify yourself.

The professionals receiving your report are prohibited from releasing your information as reporter. They may not disclose your identity to the alleged abuser or victim.