Ohio’s Adult Protective Services has changed their requirements for reporting suspected elder abuse. Several professionals and service people will now hold a legal responsibility to report suspected abuse to protect vulnerable elders from harm.
New legislation in Ohio has expanded a list of individuals who are required by law to report suspected elder abuse. Certain professionals—including firefighters, chiropractors and bank tellers—have a legal responsibility to protect elders from abuse by bringing their concerns to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
This legislation comes in the wake of public concern about the significant number of adult abuse cases that go unreported each year. Sadly, experts estimate that only 20 percent of abuse cases are reported to authorities. Ohio is encouraging people to report suspected abuse so Adult Protection Services can do more to keep our elderly citizens safe.
Mandatory Reporting of Elder Abuse Keeps People Safe
Abuse and neglect are common among our country’s growing senior population, but cases are seldom reported. In Ohio, 15,000 elder abuse cases are reported every year. The actual number of abuse cases is much higher—a recent study estimated that for every 1 abuse case brought to the authorities, another 14 cases remain behind closed doors.
It’s estimated that 115,000 cases of elder abuse take place in Ohio each year, the majority of which are unreported.
Elder abuse takes many forms. The most common types of abuse in Ohio are neglect, exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. Mandatory reporters—people who hold occupations listed under the Ohio Revised Code—are responsible for reporting all types of abuse.
If a mandatory reporter has a reasonable belief that an adult is being abused or has been abused, they have a suspicion of abuse and must report it. They don’t have to be sure whether or not abuse is actually occurring. Also, mandatory reporting does not require individuals to investigate further or attempt to stop the abuse.
Bank Tellers, CPAs and Real Estate Agents Among Those Who Must Report Abuse
In Ohio, a long list of mandatory reporters details which professionals are legally required to report abuse, including:
- Certified Public Accountants
- Nursing home employees
- Investment advisors
- Bank employees
- Real estate agents
These professionals are in unique positions to spot abuse from different perspectives. Lawmakers believe that a wide net of professionals mandated to report their suspicions of abuse will help keep seniors safe. More mandatory reporters means more people looking out for the safety and welfare of vulnerable elders.
Numerous signs could indicate abuse, and some may only be visible to certain professionals. Financial professionals may be better able to identify forms of financial exploitation. Medical professionals may have an easier time recognizing signs of sexual abuse. Professionals who visit the home—like home health aides—may come across signs of neglect.
So far this year, nearly a quarter of elder abuse cases in Montgomery, OH involved exploitation. Bank tellers are often the first to recognize changes in a senior’s banking habits. These individuals may suspect financial exploitation due to unexplained money transfers to relatives or sudden disappearance of funds from a senior’s account.
Similarly, dentists and chiropractors may suspect elder neglect or abuse. If their patients are absent, late to appointments or suddenly appear withdrawn, they may be living in conditions of neglect.
Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse Is Everyone’s Responsibility
This Ohio law means that many more people will be keeping an eye out for elder abuse. However, the responsibility doesn’t fall on these individuals alone. Everyone should feel responsible for reporting elder abuse when they suspect it. Speak up and report any signs you notice immediately.
Since elder abusers are often trusted friends or family members, spotting abuse can be difficult. Learn about the signs of elder abuse so you can keep an eye out at work and in your daily life.
Be sure to contact Adult Protective Services if you ever suspect abuse. If you have any reason to believe that a senior is a victim of nursing home abuse, report this to the nursing home administration. Always call 911 if you think someone is in immediate danger.
It’s important to hold people responsible for harmful actions driven by greed or negligence. Contact Nursing Home Abuse Justice for a free legal case review if you’ve been involved in an elder abuse incident.