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Elder Abuse Awareness – What is Elder Abuse?

June 26th, 2017

It’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month – What is Elder Abuse?

June is Elder Abuse Awareness MonthWith a Little Help will post a series of articles written by (or with a lot of help from) our friend and colleague, geriatric health specialist  Karin Taifour, MA, LMHC, GMHS.

Elder Abuse – A definition and why it is under-reported

The U.S. Department of Justice defines elder abuse as including “physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation of an older person by another person or entity, that occurs in any setting (e.g., home, community, or facility), either in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability.” (See The Elder Justice Roadmap, source of most of these statistics.)

CaptureAny older (or disabled/vulnerable) adult, in any family, may experience elder abuse. Sometimes individuals bear responsibility for the abuse. Sometimes broken or ineffective systems and entities bear responsibility. Even very limited research indicates that:

• One out of every ten people ages 60 and older who live at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Dementia puts elders at high risk: nearly 50% experience some kind of abuse, and 47% experience mistreatment by caregivers.

• Mental illnesses and/or substance disorders often affect perpetrators and/or victims.

• Cognitive impairment reduces capacity, increasing risk of financial exploitation.

• High rates of neglect, poor care or preventable adverse events in nursing homes and other long-term care settings affect more than two million people (most are elderly).

• About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women.

• Disproportionate victimization of African American, Latino, poor, or isolated elders.

What exactly *is* elder abuse?

Legislatures in all 50 states have passed some form of elder abuse prevention laws.  Laws and definitions vary considerably from one state to another, but in general:
Physical Abuse — inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
Sexual Abuse — non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
Emotional Abuse — inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
Abandonment — desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
Neglect — the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
Self-neglect — characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.
Exploitation — the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.

But unfortunately, the vast majority of cases go unreported.
For every 1 case of elder abuse that comes to light, another 24 remain hidden.

Why don’t victims report it?
• Dependence: reliance on the abuser/exploiter, that they may be abandoned
• Fear of retaliation: it will get worse if they say anything
• Lack of knowledge: what is abuse, what help there might be, where/how to get help

Why don’t others report it?
• Families – family conflict, dysfunctional factors, fear of getting in trouble themselves, thinking it might make things worse, don’t know who to call.
• Friends/neighbors – don’t know who to call, reluctance to get involved, fear of retaliation, “not my business” etc.
• Professionals – uneducated around signs, lack of knowledge about the requirement to report even suspected issues.

Cultural factors in abuse reporting
• A person’s culture of origin influences their family dynamics and what is acceptable behavior and treatment of others.
• Culture can also impact whether a person feels able to ask for help outside the family or community.
• Cultural factors and prior experience can also affect how the person trusts or feels comfortable with health care providers or other professionals

Did you know that Washington Long-Term Services and Supports has been Rated Top by AARP?

To report to DSHS / APS, call 1-866-END-HARM, or 1-866-363-4276.

Any criminal activity or assault must be reported to law enforcement:

* Call 911 if emergency situation, or

* Call local police agency’s non-emergency line or local precinct to make a police report (where the crime occurred).

SeattlePoliceNonEmergencyNumbers


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If you are unsure…

If you are unsure who to call or how to report, call the DSHS Hotline at 800-562-6078
If you are unsure whether you need to report, CALL!

* You will never be held liable for making a report you didn’t need to make — but you run the risk of a misdemeanor charge and losing your professional license if you don’t report information that you should!

* For more information online, see https://www.dshs.wa.gov/report-abuse-and-neglect

Article researched by Aging Care Consultation Services  – Karin Taifour, MA LMHC GMHS

Karin Taifour is a licensed mental health counselor and geriatric mental health specialist, and has worked in mental health with older adults for over 12 years.  You can contact Karin at:  206-999-5934, and by email at karin@nullagingcareconsult.com.  See her website here: Aging Care Consultation.

Coming Soon – A Chart of Elder Abuse and What Constitutes Financial Exploitation

 

 

Elder Abuse Awareness – Who is a Mandated Reporter?

June 7th, 2017

It’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month – Who is a Mandated Reporter?

June is Elder Abuse Awareness MonthWith a Little Help will post a series of articles written by (or with a lot of help from) our friend and colleague, geriatric health specialist Karin Taifour, MA, LMHC, GMHS.

VulnerableAdultTwo

WHO IS A MANDATED REPORTER for ELDER ABUSE?

(Who is required to report elder abuse?)

Caregivers, social workers, and anyone working with the elderly population (see complete list below) . . . did you know by law you are defined as a Mandated Reporter?  This means that if you even suspect abuse of a “vulnerable adult” (defined below), that you are required by law to report the crime to either DSHS or law enforcement.  

While we may not be able to stop elder abuse from occurring, the law dictates that we are responsible for protecting our elder population from further harm if we are a witness to it, or are aware of it, or if we even suspect it might be happening.  We do not have to have evidence or definitive proof of any wrongdoing – but if there are any concerns, we have to report it.

Who is a mandated reporter?

  • An employee of DSHS;
  • Law enforcement officer;
  • Social worker;
  • Professional school personnel;
  • Individual care provider;
  • An employee or operator of an adult living facility;
  • An employee of social service, welfare, mental health, adult day health, adult day care, home health, home care, or hospice agency;
  • County coroner or medical examiner;
  • Christian Science practitioner;
  • Any licensed health care provider;
  • Anyone engaged in a professional capacity during the regular course of employment in encouraging or promoting the health, welfare, support, or education of vulnerable adults, or providing social services to vulnerable adults, whether in an individual capacity or as an employee or agent of any public or private organization or institution.

VulnerableAdult
Who is a vulnerable adult?

  • 60 years of age or older who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself;
  • Found incapacitated by a court or has a guardian;
  • Has a developmental disability;
  • Admitted to any care facility (adult family home, skilled nursing, assisted living, dementia care, residential care/treatment);
  • Receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies;
  • Receiving services from an individual provider or personal aide

To report to DSHS / APS, call 1-866-END-HARM, or 1-866-363-4276.

Any criminal activity or assault must be reported to law enforcement:

* Call 911 if emergency situation, or

* Call local police agency’s non-emergency line or local precinct to make a police report (where the crime occurred).

SeattlePoliceNonEmergencyNumbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are unsure…PoliceWithVulnerableAdult

If you are unsure who to call or how to report, call the DSHS Hotline at 800-562-6078
If you are unsure whether you need to report, CALL!

* You will never be held liable for making a report you didn’t need to make — but you run the risk of a misdemeanor charge and losing your professional license if you don’t report information that you should!

* For more information online, see https://www.dshs.wa.gov/report-abuse-and-neglect

Article researched by Aging Care Consultation Services  – Karin Taifour, MA LMHC GMHS

Karin Taifour is a licensed mental health counselor and geriatric mental health specialist, and has worked in mental health with older adults for over 12 years.  You can contact Karin at:  206-999-5934, and by email at karin@nullagingcareconsult.com.  See her website here: Aging Care Consultation.

Next week – What exactly *is* elder abuse?

 

 

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