Elder Abuse Awareness

 

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ELDER ABUSE?
 
There are six different types of elder abuse:
  • Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping. This may also include restraining an older adult against his/her will, such as locking them in a room or tying them to furniture.
  • Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older adult. Keeping that person from seeing close friends and relatives is another form of emotional abuse.

  • Neglect occurs when the caregiver does not try to respond to the older adult's needs. This may include physical, emotional, and social needs, or withholding food, medications, or access to health care.

  • Abandonment is leaving an older adult who needs help alone without planning for his or her care.

  • Sexual abuse involves a caregiver forcing an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.

  • Financial abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen from an older adult. It can include forging checks, taking someone else's retirement or Social Security benefits, or using a person's credit cards and bank accounts without their permission. It also includes changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, or title to a house without permission.

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WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ELDER ABUSE?
 

You may see signs of abuse or neglect when you visit an older adult at home or in an eldercare facility. You may

notice the person:

  • Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys

  • Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes

  • Has trouble sleeping

  • Loses weight for no reason

  • Becomes withdrawn or acts agitated or violent

  • Displays signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth

  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, or scars

  • Has broken eyeglasses/frames, or physical signs of punishment or being restrained

  • Develops bed sores or other preventable conditions

  • Lacks medical aids (glasses, walker, dentures, hearing aid, medications)

  • Has an eviction notice for unpaid rent, notice of late mortgage, or home eviction

  • Has hazardous, unsafe, or unclean living conditions

  • Displays signs of insufficient care or unpaid bills despite adequate financial resources

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WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT ABUSE?
 
If you see signs of abuse, try talking with the older adult to find out what's going on. For instance, the abuse may be from another resident and not from someone who works at the nursing home or assisted living facility. Most importantly, get help or report what you see to ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES (APS). You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring. Professionals will investigate.
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REPORTING ABUSE: WHO SHOULD I TELL?
 

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever come to the attention of authorities. Tennessee is a mandatory reporting state. If you see abuse — or even suspect that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited — you must report it. Call the Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services unit, toll-free at 1-888-277-8366.

Who Should I Tell?

  • If the abuse is happening now, call 911.

  • If you suspect elder or adult abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 1-888-277-8366.

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COMMUNITY GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS
 
ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES (APS)
Adult Protective Services staff investigate reports of abuse, neglect (including self-neglect) or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation. APS staff assess the need for protective services and provide services to reduce the identified risk to the adult. 
Toll Free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366)
https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/adults/adult-protective-services.html
NORTHEAST TENNESSEE VULNERABLE ADULT COALITION (NET-VAC)
NET-VAC is a collaborative effort of public and private entities to address the issues of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties in Northeast Tennessee.  Our Mission is to educate and raise awareness of abuse, neglect & exploitation of our at risk adults. For more information call Teresa Sutphin at 423-722-5120.
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VIDEO LIBRARY: ELDER ABUSE
 
CLICK HERE to view some of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability educational videos on elder abuse.
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