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Reporting Elder Abuse is Now Mandatory

It would seem to be common sense that any professional that comes in contact with the elderly person who believes that may be the victim of abuse would be required to report it, right? Ohio just passed a law making it mandatory to report such abuse.

Ohio has expanded the number of professionals who are now required to report elder abuse beyond the medical community to include bank employees, financial planners, notary public, pharmacists, dialysis technicians, firefighters, first responders, building inspectors, CPAs, and real estate agents.  That’s an impressive list!  Certainly, these professionals from many different walks of life will increase the chances that more cases of elder abuse will be reported and addressed.

Elder abuse can include exploiting another person’s resources; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; or neglecting to meet a person’s basic needs. There were more than 16,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Ohio adults aged 60 and older in 2017. Sadly, only one in 14 cases are reported, according to National Institutes of Health estimates.

“This expansion of mandatory reporters will help us in our goal of protecting our vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbors from harm,” said Cynthia Dungey, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which supervises Ohio’s Adult Protective Services program.

Financial institutions are one of the likely places where exploitation can take place. Officials are educating tellers to identify the signs of exploitation, such as an older customer appearing confused or distant or withdrawing unusual amounts of money.

Other signs of elder abuse include seniors living in isolation, missing appointments, appearing frightened or avoiding specific people.

Whenever there is a dramatic change in behavior, including a withdrawal from usual activities, a change in mood or temperament or flinching at any kind of physical contact, elder abuse may be occurring.

Elder abuse risks increase when poverty, declining health, dementia, domestic violence or other traumatic events are present. It is important to acknowledge that the most likely victim of elder abuse is those with no family, support system or access to community services is more likely to become a victim.

ReferenceDayton Daily News (September 29, 2018) “This new law means many more Ohio officials are watching out for elder abuse. Here’s why it was passed.”

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