Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Older Adults – Some helpful information

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Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Older Adults – Some helpful information

Tom Gonzales and Andy Pittman, who work for the Weld County Area Agency on Aging Adult Protection (APS), gave an informative presentation last month at the Carbon Valley Networking meeting held at the Carbon Valley Library.

Their presentation reviewed what Adult Protective Services does, what is abuse, neglect and exploitation in older adults, how to make a report and what happens once APS gets involved. This article will cover some of what they presented.

Since July 1, 2014, certain professionals are mandatory reporters of abuse, caretaker neglect and exploitation of at risk-elders. And on July 1, 2016, Intellectual, developmentally disabled adults 18 years and older are also included in Mandatory Reporting. There are many professionals in our community that are required to report abuse; all medical providers, all mental health providers, hospital and long term care facilities, dentists, fire fighters, bank personnel, caregivers, clergy and emergency service providers to name a few.

 If you are a mandatory reporter and you witness or become aware that an at-risk elder has been or is at imminent risk for mistreatment (abuse, caretaker neglect, or exploitation), you must make a report to law enforcement within 24 hours.

What is an at-risk elder? An at-risk elder is any person who is 70 years of age or older as of July 1, 2014, per Colorado Statute.

At-risk Adults

 At-risk adults are persons 18 years of age or older who are susceptible to mistreatment or self-neglect because: they are unable to obtain necessary support services, or they lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions.

 Conditions that increase risk include dementia, physical or medical frailty, developmental disabilities, brain injury and behavioral disorders.

Examples of at-risk adults
• A 67 year old male with dementia who cannot remember to pay his bills and has no water or electricity in his home.
• A 20 year old developmentally delayed (DD) adult who is being locked in her bedroom by her caregiver for 8 hours a day without food and water
• A 36 year old female who is wheelchair bound, has advanced stages of MS, and needs 24/7 care and is being physically abused by her husband
• A 68 year old male who lives alone and there are reports he is not eating or bathing and he is unable to get to the store for food
Examples of adults who ARE NOT at risk:
• A 35 year old man who walks with a cane or uses a wheelchair but is able to perform all activities necessary to provide for his health and safety.
• An adult of any age with decision-making capacity who:
• Makes poor investment decisions or participates in a lottery scam;
• Is involved in a landlord-tenant dispute;
• Chooses to live in a dirty home or with multiple pets;
• Uses alcohol and drugs to excess.

How to make a report to Adult Protective Services

Have as much information as possible about the at-risk elder, the alleged perpetrator, and what is concerning you. Law enforcement will need the following information:

  1. Name and address of the at-risk elder.
  2. A description of the alleged mistreatment and the situation; what did you observe?
  3. What is the nature and extent of the injury?
  4. Who is the alleged perpetrator; name and address if possible.
  5. Any other information that you feel is relevant.
  6. To report abuse/caretaker neglect or exploitation of an at-risk elder contact your local law enforcement agency.
  7. All other reports can be made to the Weld County Department of Human Services:
    Day or Night Call
    (970) 346-7676 (Adult Protection Referrals)
    (970) 346-7670 (Child Protection Referrals)

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