Elder Abuse in Indiana
What should I do if I suspect my elderly relative is being abused?
Until recently, elder abuse was something people didn’t really talk about. But over the past few years, Indiana has gotten serious about tackling this issue. In fact, Indiana is the only state that has tied its Adult Protective Services (APS) Program directly to its criminal justice system, allowing for easier prosecution of abusers.
The state investigates three different types of elder abuse reported to it:
- Physical Abuse: Any touching (battery) of a person in a rude and insolent manner.
- Neglect: The intentional withholding of essential care or service. Abandonment of an individual is also considered neglect.
- Exploitation: The intentional misuse of a person's property, person or services for financial gain.
If you suspect that your elderly relative is being abused, you can take immediate action by calling Indiana’s APS hotline at (800) 992-6978.
Unfortunately, despite the state’s best efforts, abuse continues. According to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council:
- Approximately 90 percent of abusers are family members - most often adult children, spouses, partners and others.
- 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are never reported to the authorities.
- There are more than 5.1 million elders over 65 with some type of dementia and, of those, 50 percent experience some kind of abuse.
- It is estimated that $5.3 billion is added to the nation's annual health expenditures due to direct medical costs associated with violent injuries to older adults.
- It is estimated that in 2009, $2.9 billion was the annual financial loss by older victims of financial exploitation; a 12 percent increase from 2008.
Beyond calling the hotline, there are several things you can do to protect your loved ones as they age.
First, don’t be afraid to investigate if you suspect abuse is occurring. Be sure to document your findings by taking pictures, writing down important dates, and generally getting as much information down on paper as possible. This can often be awkward since abusers are often family members, but it is important.