The Importance of Reporting Elder Abuse
While valiant efforts are continually being made to report elder abuse, sources across the board agree that it is seriously under-reported. While the reports don’t necessarily show it, an estimated one in ten elders is abused every year.
In Colorado, elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment of a person who is 70 years or older. This mistreatment could be physical or psychological abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or a combination of abuses.
Elder abuse’s low reporting numbers aren’t without cause. Elder abuse often occurs at the hands of a loved one. Consequently, the elder suffering the abuse might deny allegations hoping to protect the abuser.
Another reason for the low reporting numbers: People don’t necessarily feel inclined to report suspicions without further evidence for fear of repercussions for themselves or the alleged abuser. Even if you only have suspicions, it’s important to report possible elder abuse. If your report was made with honest intent—even if your suspicions turn out to be unfounded upon further investigation—you should be safe from any legal repercussions.
On the other hand, if you make a report of elder abuse and that report is purposely false, you could receive a fine, jail time, or both.
Why should you report elder abuse?
On the more obvious front, reporting elder abuse helps the elderly person stuck in that particular abusive situation. While it might not always work out exactly as you’d hoped, it does make a difference. The awareness of the situation might be enough to shift the dynamic. And if needed, further legal action can be taken to help the elder in the situation.
In addition to the benefits reporting elder abuse has for the individual cases, reporting helps show the true magnitude and scope of the problem, allowing the proper resources and funds to be directed toward the issue. Within two years of Colorado enacting its mandatory reporting law, the number of elder abuse cases jumped a staggering 50 percent across the state. This helps officials direct more time, effort, and money where it is needed to help those who can’t fight the battles on their own.
It’s important to note that since Colorado has a mandatory reporting law, certain professionals, including nurses and physicians, are required by law to report elder abuse within 24 hours of learning of the abuse or personally witnessing it.
How can you report elder abuse?
Abuse should be reported to law enforcement, who will then follow up with an investigation and contact the proper authorities in Adult Protective Services.
To report, you will need the following:
- The at-risk elder’s name and address
- A description of the situation and possible abuse
- A description of any injuries
- If possible, the perpetrator’s name and address
- Any additional relevant information
If the case is severe and you fear for the elder’s safety, call 911.
If you or an elderly loved one is suffering from abuse, the team of personal injury attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC can fight for you to ensure you get the help you deserve. When it comes to something as personal and emotionally draining as abuse, it helps to have someone in your corner you can trust to guide you through this difficult time.
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