What would you do if you found out a loved one was being abused, neglected or exploited? Would you even know the signs? Would you know who to call for help?

Annually, June 15th is international World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse is all too real. Last year, Indiana Adult Protective Services (APS) received almost 35,000 calls for service resulting in more than 9,500 cases investigated; two-thirds involved persons over the age of 60.

In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are all considered forms of elder abuse. Self-neglect may also be considered mistreatment.

Any vulnerable adult can be a victim: elder abuse doesn’t discriminate among race, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status. Adults may be vulnerable because of their advancing age, frailty, dementia, social isolation, addiction, mental illness or physical or intellectual disability.

Allegations of exploitation, battery and neglect are up over the previous year, with exploitation showing a marked increase over the past 10 years. Cases may involve more than one allegation: for example, a caregiver exploiting a family member for their income, assets, medication, house, etc., may also be abusing and neglecting the family member. Sadly, victims may be reluctant to ask for help or file criminal charges for fear of being placed in a nursing home or other facility.

Indiana’s APS investigators have a tough job. APS is understaffed and underfunded for the increasing demand, and investigators have to deal with a wide variety of people and situations that can even put the investigators at risk of harm.  Fortunately, lawmakers and state staff are now taking action to rectify that problem.

APS relies on YOU to make a difference – they can only respond when someone reports a concern. Knowing the red flags of elder abuse, taking these steps to prevent elder abuse AND reporting your concerns may be the difference between someone you love being victimized or protected.

Call 1.800.992.6978 today to report your concerns.