In every community
across this country there are older adults who are being abused, neglected,
or financially exploited. Yet in many instances these cases remain hidden,
and what should have been the golden years turn into the nightmare years.
In some instances the abuse continues because the older person is
embarrassed, ashamed, or fearful of losing the help they need from family
members or caregivers to remain in their home. In other cases family
members or neighbors overlook signs of abuse, donít want to get involved, or
are too trusting of caregivers who are abusing that trust. As the number of
older adults in our population increases, the incidence of elder abuse will
almost certainly increase unless we take action to address the problem. .
What is elder abuse?
Abuse is defined as
the harm or threatened harm to an adultís health or welfare caused by
another. Abuse can take many forms including physical and emotional abuse,
neglect, and financial exploitation. Neglect can be self neglect -
resulting from the older adultís inability to respond to a harmful situation
- or caregiver neglect - the failure of a person who assumes responsibility
for a significant aspect of the adultís health or welfare to respond to a
harmful situation or to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical
care. Financial exploitation involves the misuse of an adultís funds or
property. Exploitation can include outright theft, misuse of a power of
attorney or other breach of a fiduciary duty to manage funds belonging to
the adult, or an intentional breach of a promise to repay money or provide
What can I do if I suspect that a family member, friend or neighbor is
being abused or exploited?
You can begin by
asking questions of the older person, a caregiver, family members or
friends. You can stop by the older personís home for a brief visit to ask
how they are doing. During the visit you can observe the home situation. If
a family member or caregiver is trying isolate the older person from social
contact this can be an important ďred flagĒ for abuse or neglect.
Where should I report suspected elder abuse or neglect?
Statewide Centralized Intake Unit for Adult
Protective Services, 855-444-3911, which is staffed 24 hours/day, 7
days/week. This unit will conduct the intake process and refer
cases to the local APS unit in the county where the abuse is occurring. A report
does not have to be based on eye witness accounts or incriminating
statements or definite proof of abuse. If you have a reasonable suspicion
you should make a report. After receiving the report APS will conduct an
investigation. The identity of the person reporting the abuse is kept
In Genesee County you can also report
suspected abuse or neglect to the Genesee County Sheriff's Elder Abuse unit, 810-257-3422. There are two detectives assigned to the
unit, and other Sheriff's Department personnel assist as needed. The
unit works closely with law enforcement personnel from other municipalities,
Adult Protective Services, medical and social services providers,
representatives from local financial institutions, the Genesee County
Probate Court, and the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office.