Cuyahoga County News Now

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Protecting Our Seniors

by Marlene Robinson-Statler , Executive Officer, Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services
Change in Ohio Law Requires Professionals to Report Elder Abuse

elderly man holding a bag of onionsWhen you think of abuse or neglect of our most vulnerable residents you often think of children. But there is a growing population at risk that we often overlook. They are members of our families, neighborhoods, and churches. You might see them every day at work and miss the signs.

Older adults age 60 or older can all too easily be the victims of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation; often at the hands of those they trust or depend on for daily care. Nationally, only one in ten cases of elder abuse is reported. But a recent change in Ohio law is aimed at changing that.

In September of 2018 numerous changes to the Ohio Revised Code pertaining to Adult Protective Services took place. One of the major changes is the expanded list of mandated reporters, those are professionals who often serve older adults who are now required to report suspected abuse or neglect to local APS investigators at the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services.

Why expand the list? Because every day as we go to work we could come in contact with seniors who need our help. The expanded list of mandated reporters includes:

  • Ambulance drivers
  • Emergency technicians/paramedics
  • Building/Housing inspectors
  • CPAs
  • Pharmacists
  • Dialysis technicians
  • Health department employees
  • Mental health agency employees
  • County humane society employees
  • Firefighters
  • Real Estate Brokers
  • Notary Publics
  • Bank, Savings & Loan and Credit Union Employees
  • Investment Advisors
  • Financial Planners
group of people smiling outside of a buildingThese are all people who may see a senior’s physical scars, health conditions, housing conditions, financial records, changes in behavior or mood, or other signs of abuse. Now, even if they aren’t sure, they will be required to report their suspicions to APS so that investigators can find out what’s really going on and ensure seniors are safe and supported. When appropriate, it could lead to criminal charges against an abuser or scam artist.

How can you help? First, know the risks for our seniors and look for the signs. Diminished physical health, mental capacity, and isolation often make seniors vulnerable to abusers. Next, pick up the phone or go online to report suspected elder abuse. Call Adult Protective Services at 216-420-6700 or use the APS referral website.

Links:
Red Flags of Abuse
About Adult Protective Services