Tips for Caregivers

What You Need to Know

Recognizing presenting symptoms of an emotionally abused or neglected older adult is an important first step in getting them help. Feeling guilty, anxious, confused, ashamed, or fearful are very common reactions to abuse or neglect. Someone who is being abused may also become depressed because they may see the situation as hopeless and may begin to avoid others. Many older people do not speak up about what is going on in their own home, which can lead to even more abuse. Sometimes they suffer the pain in silence because of such mistaken beliefs as:

  • The abuse is my fault.
  • The consequences of speaking up are worse than keeping quiet.
  • Family matters are private and should stay that way.
  • I have no one to turn to who can help.
  • I'm afraid if I break the family secret, the person hurting me will get back at me in a way worse than what is happening now.
  • I'm so ashamed and embarrassed that my own family member could be behaving in an abusive or neglectful way.

Report Abuse

Suspected abuse is sufficient reason to make a report to authorities.

When you call to report abuse of an older adult, be ready to give the elder's name, address, and contact information, and give details about why you are concerned. You will be asked for your name, address, and telephone number, but you do not have to give this information in most states. The highest priority to everyone is to make the elder safe.

In some states, certain professionals are required or encouraged to report elder abuse. The people required to report elder abuse in these states are doctors and nurses, psychologists, police officers and social workers.

How to Report Abuse

If you suspect elder abuse, call someone now! You do not have to be positive of the abuse, and you do not have to give your name. You are protecting someone from further harm by reporting elderly abuse or suspected elderly abuse.

If an elder is in danger now, call:

  1. 911
  2. Your State Elder Abuse Hotline