While elderly people certainly deserve kindness and veneration, the elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups of people, subject to abuse on an annual basis.
To be sure, the prevalence of elder abuse is suspected to sit at about 10 percent of all elderly persons, which includes the physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, verbal abuse, and neglect of elderly persons, most of whom require care from another party.
The abuse of an elderly person is completely unacceptable, and, in many cases, illegal. When elder abuse is occurring, the intervention of Adult Protective Services (APS) may be necessary.
What Is Adult Protective Services?
APS refers to the state entity that is charged with investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elderly persons, which is defined as those persons who are 65 years of age or above.
(APS also investigates cases involving adults 18 years of age and above who have a disability.)
When to Call APS
For caregivers and loved ones who suspect that abuse may be occurring, knowing exactly what constitutes abuse, and when APS should get involved, can be complicated.
It is first important to familiarize oneself with the various types of elder abuse cases that APS handles, including cases involving the following abuse types:
- Physical abuse;
- Mental abuse;
- Emotional abuse;
- Verbal abuse;
- Sexual abuse; and
Certain professionals are mandated to report any suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, even if they do not have hard evidence that abuse is occurring.
If you are a healthcare professional and are wondering whether or not you are mandated to report abuse, talk to your supervisor or view the list of mandated reporters online.
If you are not a professional but believe that abuse is occurring, reporting it to APS is recommended. Filing a report can lead to important protections for an elderly person.
What Does Adult Protective Services Do?
As stated above, Adult Protective Services is responsible for investigating any claims or suspicions made regarding the abuse of a person 65 or older (or 18 and older in some cases).
After suspected abuse is reported, an official from APS will likely:
- Conduct a visit to the place where abuse is suspected, either in the home or in a care facility. Oftentimes, this visit will be unannounced.
- Talk to other individuals who may know of the situation or serve as witnesses to potential abuse, such as other members of the home or other healthcare professionals or patients in a nursing home facility.
- Assign a case manager to the vulnerable individual, especially if abuse or neglect is confirmed. The case manager will be responsible for exploring options for getting the abused adult the care that they need, and ensuring that the adult is safe.
If abuse is occurring, APS will develop a plan, with the abused party, that addresses basic needs, like health, security, and safety.
Further, an APS representative will also guide the abused party in seeking other services, such as legal assistance.
What Other Remedies Are Available?
When the abuse of an elderly person or a disabled adult is occurring, the very first priority is to ensure that abuse is discontinued and that the abused adult is safe and feels safe; APS can help with the element of dealing with and putting a stop to adult abuse.
(As a note, if you believe that an adult, elderly or disabled, is at imminent risk of harm, you should not hesitate to call 911.)
Once an adult is safe and abuse is no longer occurring, it is worth sitting down with an experienced nursing home and elder abuse lawyer.
A nursing home abuse attorney can help you to understand your right to file a claim against the abusive party (or the nursing home) for compensation and will manage all elements of your case, including gathering evidence, working with insurance companies, and reviewing all settlement offers. You can also call our law firm for guidance in filing a report with APS.
Protection of Vulnerable Adults Is Important – Take Action Today
If you believe that an elderly loved one or a disabled adult is being abused, do not hesitate to take action – their wellbeing is at stake.
Our Georgia nursing home abuse legal team at the Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., encourages you to call us for a free consultation, to report the abuse to Adult Protective Services, and to consider legal action.
You can reach us today by phone, or by sending us a message directly.