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Posted: March 20, 2009

Keeping Seniors Healthy

Hop on the First Sign of Elder Abuse

Q. I have a neighbor, a woman in her 80s. I think someone is hurting her. It might be her daughter. I don’t know what I should do about this.

A.  Recently, the U.S. Administration on Aging found that more than a half-million people over the age of 60 are abused or neglected each year. And surprisingly about 90% of the abusers are related to the victims.

All 50 states have elder-abuse prevention laws and have set up reporting systems. Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies investigate reports of suspected elder abuse. To report elder abuse, contact APS through your state’s hotline.

The following are available hotline numbers:

Alabama 800-458-7214
Alaska 800-478-9996
Arizona 877-767-2385
Arkansas 800-332-4443
California 888-436-3600
Colorado 800-773-1366
Connecticut 888-385-4225
Delaware 800-223-9074
District of Columbia 202-541-3950
Florida 800-962-2873
Georgia 888-774-0152
Hawaii 808-832-5115
Idaho 877-471-2777
Illinois 866-800-1409
Indiana 800-992-6978
Iowa 800-362-2178
Kansas 800-922-5330
Kentucky 800-752-6200
Louisiana 800-259-4990
Maine 800-624-8404
Maryland 800-917-7383
Massachusetts 800-922-2275
Michigan 800-996-6228
Minnesota 800-333-2433
Mississippi 800-222-8000
Missouri 800-392-0210
Montana 800-551-3191
Nebraska 800-652-1999
Nevada 800-992-5757
New Hampshire 800-351-1888
New Jersey 800-792-8820
New Mexico 800-797-3260
New York 800-342-3009
North Carolina 800-662-7030
North Dakota 800-451-8693
Ohio 866-635-3748
Oklahoma 800-522-3511
Oregon 800-232-3020
Pennsylvania 800-490-8505
Rhode Island 401-462-0550
South Carolina 803-898-7318
South Dakota 605-773-3656
Tennessee 888-277-8366
Texas 800-252-5400
Utah 800-371-7897
Vermont 800-564-1612
Virginia 888-832-3858
Washington 866-363-4276
West Virginia 800-352-6513
Wisconsin 608-266-2536
Wyoming 800-457-3659

The APS agency keeps calls confidential. If the agency decides there may be a law violation, it assigns a case worker to investigate. If the victim needs crisis intervention, services are available. If elder abuse is not substantiated, most APS agencies will work with other community agencies to get necessary social and health services.

Any mentally-capable senior has the right to refuse services offered by APS. The APS agency provides services only if the senior agrees or has been declared incapacitated by the court and a guardian has been appointed.

So, what is elder abuse? It can take a variety of forms: physical, sexual, emotional and financial. Neglect of an older person also is within the umbrella of elder abuse.

One of the most common types of elder abuse is self-neglect. Self-neglect often occurs in older adults who have declining health, are isolated or depressed, or who abuse drugs or alcohol.

If you're concerned that an older adult might need help, these are symptoms to look for:

  • Physical injury such as a bruise, cut, burn, rope mark, sprain or broken bone;
  • Refusal of the caregiver to allow you to visit the older person alone.
  • Indications of dehydration, malnourishment, weight loss and poor hygiene.
  • Negative behavior such as agitation, withdrawal, expressions of fear or apathy.
  • Unexplained changes in finances.

Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. He has written two published novels: Saltwater Taffy, and Local Angles. You can send your health-related questions to Fred at

© 2009 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.
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