Elder abuse happens every day to millions of Americans, but rarely is this type of abuse reported. Most of the time, people are too afraid to say something or do not know how to report an incident. This is a sad fact because many elderly people wind up hospitalized annually due to abuse - or wind up with bank accounts and other assets depleted.
If you see elder abuse happening (or think that it might be) please take the steps below to ensure that the person being abused is protected.
- Ask: If you think that something might be happening, ask the person you are concerned about. Note your concern and that you are available should that person need help or need to reach out - giving someone your phone number is a great way to act as a safety net when necessary.
- Intervene: If it is a violent situation, do not get in the middle of the situation unless you think that you can separate the elderly person from the abuser quickly and safely. Otherwise, call the police and let the attacker know that you are calling the police - if you are in a crowd, solicit the help of others.
- Report Anonymously: if you fear that an abuser might be coming after you or your family, you can file an anonymous report with your local police department.
It’s important that you do not become overburdened with protecting an elderly person yourself too. Even though you might be trying to do the right thing, it can be difficult to be the sole person someone relies on. There is no shame in reaching out for additional help or getting support. The important thing is that the person being abused finds help, support, and knows that they are not alone.