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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
discussed first, since they lie at the center of current policy. The chapter then addresses community-based interventions—focusing on adult protective services, the health and criminal justice systems, and emerging examples of collaborative programs—before turning to mistreatment in institutional settings.
REPORTING ELDER MISTREATMENT
Reporting of suspected elder mistreatment is the most commonly used and most controversial intervention. The adult protection statutes of all states and the District of Columbia include provisions governing the reporting of suspected elder mistreatment. All but six of those jurisdictions mandate reporting of suspected mistreatment by specified categories of persons. The other six states—Colorado, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin—permit reporting but do not require it. In general, reports are to be made to the pertinent adult protective services agency; in some jurisdictions, however, reporters may be required to transmit their suspicions to a law enforcement agency or some other type of organization in lieu of or in addition to adult protective services.
According to a statutory analysis conducted by the American Bar Association Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly (through December 2001), in eight of the mandatory reporting states (Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wyoming), “any person” who suspects mistreatment is required to report it. In the other jurisdictions, the reporting obligation is directed to various occupational and professional groups. However, nine of those states take a hybrid approach, requiring “any person” and members of specific occupations to report, depending on the circumstances. In all, 14 states list between 1 and 10 categories, 9 states list between 11 and 20, and 14 states list 21 or more. The occupations and professions commonly mandated to report include:
Health care professionals
Mental health professionals
Caregivers (whether paid or unpaid)
Home care providers
Employees of nonresidential programs for the elderly
Employees of sheltered workshops and similar nonresidential programs
Employees of residential facilities for the elderly
Long-term care ombudsman program staff and volunteers