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Is this elder abuse?


Question: Is it a form of elder abuse if a patient is left to sit in wet clothes all day (so much so the chair is soaked too) or is left only partially clean after a bowel movement?

Dr. Amy: There are different types of elder abuse, including physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. In the words of the National Center on Elder Abuse, physical abuse involves inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need. By this definition—and by standards of human decency—it certainly sounds like the person you are writing about is being abused or neglected.

Many health professional have a legal obligation to report abuse or suspected abuse, and so do regular citizens in many states. Apart from the law, we all have a moral duty to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and I encourage you to report your concerns.

You can read more about how and where to report abuse here. This web page will link you to the right agency and give you contact information.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, you do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professional staff in the agency to investigate your suspicions. When making the call, you will be asked to give the name, address, and contact information of the person you believe is being abused or neglected. You will also be asked to explain why you are concerned. You will be asked for your name, address, telephone number, etc., but most states will take the report even if you do not identify yourself. No one is allowed to share your information with the alleged abuser or the victim.

I’d like to share this web page as well. It contains a number of common scenarios and provides advice.

Don’t let fear of meddling stop you from reporting your concerns.


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