Signs of Possible Abuse:

Bruises, cuts or other physical harm

Sudden behavior changes

Unsafe or unclean living conditions

Poor personal hygiene

Unexplained, sudden financial changes

Disappearing personal possessions

Overuse or under-use of prescription medicine

#ElderAware

Report suspected elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Adult Protective Services:

1-855-644-6277

#ElderAware

For suspected abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the long-term care ombudsman: 1-800-282-1206

#ElderAware

 

Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

Elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and often affects the most vulnerable members of the community. While approximately 16,000 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation are made each year in Ohio, the National Institutes of Health estimates that these reports represent only one in 14 cases.

Tip Sheet: Reporting Elder Abuse

Contact Ohio Adult Protective Services: 1-855-644-6277

What types of things are considered abuse?

What is Elder Abuse?

  • Neglect occurs when an individual’s basic needs for safety and well-being (such as medical care, adequate nutrition, socialization) are not being met. This can be through the action or inaction of the individual or another person.
  • Exploitation is the unlawful or improper use of another person’s resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain. People who exploit older adults can range from total strangers to trusted friends and family members.
  • Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that results in injury, pain or impairment. It includes pushing, hitting, slapping, pinching and other ways of physically harming a person. In care settings, it can also include placing an individual in incorrect positions, force feeding, restraining or giving medication without the person’s knowledge.
  • Emotional abuse occurs when a person is threatened, humiliated, intimidated or otherwise psychologically hurt. It includes the violation of an adult’s right to make decisions and the loss of his or her privacy.
  • Sexual abuse includes rape or other unwanted, nonconsensual sexual contact. It also can mean forced or coerced nudity, exhibitionism and other non-touching sexual situations.

Factors that raise the risk of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation:
(Source: National Center on Elder Abuse)

  • Lack of support from family, friends and neighbors
  • Dementia
  • Previous experiences of domestic violence and other traumatic events
  • Declining physical health and ability
  • Living with a large number of household members other than a spouse
  • Lower income or poverty
  • Lack of access to - or failure to take advantage of - available community services and supports
  • Age (under 70)
  • Race (African-American)
  • Gender (female)

Learn the warning signs of elder abuse...

Know who to contact if you suspect abuse...

Signs of Possible Elder Abuse

Warning signs of possible elder abuse, neglect or exploitation:

  • Bruises, cuts or other signs of physical harm;
  • Sudden behavioral changes, such as becoming less social;
  • A caregiver who refuses to allow visitors to see the adult alone;
  • Hazardous or unsanitary living conditions;
  • Dehydration, malnutrition or poor personal hygiene;
  • Previously uninvolved relatives showing sudden interest in the adult’s rights, affairs and possessions;
  • Unexplained, sudden transfers of assets or finances to an individual;
  • Unexplained disappearances of funds or valuable possessions;
  • Abrupt changes in a will, financial documents, bank accounts or banking practice; and
  • Over- or under-utilization of prescribed medications or missing medications.

Know who to contact if you suspect abuse...

What is elder abuse?

Call Adult Protective Services - 1-855-APS-OHIO

If you feel that someone is in immediate danger of harm from abuse, neglect or exploitation, call local law enforcement immediately.

 

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services supervises the state’s Adult Protective Services program, which helps vulnerable adults age 60 and older who are in danger of harm, are unable to protect themselves and may have no one to assist them. County departments of job and family services receive and investigate reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation and evaluate the need for protective services. To report suspected abuse, call the statewide, toll-free help line at 1-855-644-6277 or contact your county department of job and family services.

The Department of Aging is home to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which advocates for people receiving home care, assisted living and nursing home care. Paid and volunteer staff work to resolve complaints about services, help people select a provider and offer information about benefits and consumer rights. To report suspected abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility or by staff of a home care agency, call the State Ombudsman’s Office toll-free at 1-800-282-1206, or contact your regional long-term care ombudsman program.

Additional resources:

What is elder abuse?

Learn the warning signs of elder abuse...

 


Fraud and Scams

Scammers are increasingly targeting older adults with scams to steal money or get personal information they can use to open accounts and access other benefits. Thankfully, older adults are likewise getting wiser to common scams and are much more likely to report suspected fraud than younger adults. However, the Federal Trade Commission reports that older adults are far less likely to admit they lost money in a scam. The types of scams in which older adults are likely to lose money are also different than those that younger adults tend to be victimized by.

You can protect yourself and your loved ones by recognizing the warning signs of potential scams and talking with your family about them. According to the Consumer Fianical Protection Bureau, warning signs of a scam include:

  • Unexpected calls or emails that claim to be from the government or a utility asking or demanding payment
  • Emails or calls that say you've won a prize or gift but must pay a fee to receive it
  • Requests that you use unusual means to submit payment, such as putting money on pre-paid gift cards, wiring money or sending money by courier
  • Request for bank account, checking account, ATM or credit card numbers.
  • The individual pressures you to act immediately or expresses urgency when you ask for additional information.

Spoofed Call Scams

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. This way, criminals and others can disguise themselves as employees of well-known real entities or official-sounding fake organizations. Calls may appear to come from the Social Security Administration, Medicare, your health insurance, a charity, or other source. 

These calls are often computer generated, also called "robocalls." The FCC estimates that nearly 2.4 billion robocalls are made each month. Since the true origin of these calls is impossible to tell from the caller ID, it's wise to be careful. If you were not expecting a call from an organization, do not provide personal or financial information. If you think it might be a legitimate call, thank them and tell them you will call them back. Then, look up the real phone number for the organization and call it to see if they called you.

Grandparent Scams

In a typical "grandparent" phone scam, a grandparent receives a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild. The caller claims to be in trouble and in urgent need of money, maybe to pay a fine or to keep the grandchild out of jail. The grandparent is asked to send money immediately, often out of the country, using a prepaid money card or wire transfer.  In other variations of the scam, the caller may ask you to purchase gift cards and call them with the account numbers. The caller will often ask the grandparent not to "tell Mom or Dad."

While your instinct may be to help, it's smart to be careful. Ask questions only your grandchild would know the answer to. For example, if your grandchild doesn't have a sister, ask the caller if they have called their sister. If they respond to the question instead of pointing out they don't have a sister,  you know you are talking to a scammer and not your grandchild. If your still not sure, call the child or his or her parents via numbers you trust to verify. And, no matter the situation, never agree to send money immediately or give credit card or gift card information over the phone if you are not sure the caller is who he or she claims to be.

Natural Disaster and Home Improvement Scams

The Ohio Attorney General warns of contractors that go door-to-door in neighborhoods offering to do needed home improvements or repairs. Often, they will roll into town after a storm to offer their services to homeowners who experience damage, such as downed trees or roof damage. They often claim they can start the work immediately, have materials left from another job, or offer some other reason you should accept their offer right away. Then they ask for a large down payment, or tell consumers to sign over their insurance settlement checks. These are all signs of a potential scam. Once you've paid them, they may never return, or if they do, the work they do may be incomplete or poor-quality.

While many respectable businesses still go door-to-door to meet potential customers, you should always be careful about people who come to your door unexpectedly. Never agree to any offer right away. Ask for written information about their services and request at least a day or two to consider their offer. Most legitimate businesses will respect these requests. However, if your visitor pushes you to decide right away, that's a warning flag that the offer may not be on the up-and-up. Refuse and call local law enforcement to report a potential scam.

Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams (also known as computer repair scams) often begin when consumers receive a phone call or warning message claiming there’s a problem with their computer, tablet, smart phone or other device. They are asked to follow a series of instructions, and ultimately, they’re told to provide payment, access to their device, or personal information so the operator can address the supposed problem. The scammer gives the impression that they are affiliated with well-known companies, such as Microsoft, Facebook, or Google. Eventually, the caller may ask for payment to unlock the computer, often under the threat of deleting all files on the computer or rendering it unusable. Consumers who follow the instructions risk losing money and compromising their personal information.

In some versions of the scheme, security warnings may appear on the device screen falsely claiming it has been infected with a virus, hacked, or is otherwise compromised. The warning tells consumers to call a toll-free number for help. Once the consumer calls, they are connected to a telemarketer/scammer who requests remote access to the device and claims to find errors, viruses, spyware, malware, or other problems. If you give them access, they can load these things onto your device. 

Legitimate technology companies do not provide technical assistance this way. If you are having problems with your device, contact the manufacturer or service provider directly using the technical support contact information on their website or on your bill. Do not respond to unexpected calls offering to help you with a problem you didn't know you had.

Tax Return Scams

In this scam, callers claim to represent a lawyer, attorney, the federal government, or other official entity and threaten action against you regarding problems with your taxes.  They may claim that the government is going to take action against you if you do not act immediately.  People who respond to the call are asked to pay immediately, typically by purchasing a gift card and reading the card numbers over the phone. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Ohio Department of Taxation do not make unexpected phone calls or threaten legal action if you do not pay immediately. These are signs of a scam. If you get such a call, hang up.

During tax season, individuals also should beware of tax-related identity theft, which generally occurs when an imposter files a fraudulent tax return using someone else’s Social Security number in order to obtain that person’s tax refund. To reduce the risk of tax identity theft, individuals should file their tax returns as soon as possible and make sure they trust their tax preparer.

Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams

The scam generally begins with a call or letter claiming a person has won millions of dollars in a lottery or sweepstakes. The person is asked to wire a few hundred dollars or more to cover “processing fees” or taxes in order to receive the winnings. In reality, there is no prize and any money the person sends will go to a scam artist.

You can protect yourself from this scam by following two simple rules: 1) Never send money to get money, and 2) you generally cannot win a game you didn't know you were playing. While the lure of easy money can be strong, resist the urge and ignore these offers.

Sweetheart Scams

Ohio Attorney General warns of sweetheart scams, in which an individual may try to establish a relationship with you so that they can eventually ask for money for unforseen expenses. These scammers are meticulous and willing to commit a lot of time to commit their crime. They will build a friendly or romantic relationship with their would-be victim through messages and phone calls over weeks, months, or longer. Then, they will fake a serious situation, such as illness, an accident, unexpected medical costs, legal action, or more. Victims are asked to send money using a wire-transfer service, prepaid card, or other hard-to-trace payment method. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.

In a typical sweetheart scam, the reports the scammer claims to be from the U.S. but temporarily located somewhere else. For example, the scammer may pretend to be a military member stationed in Afghanistan, an engineer building bridges in South Africa, an oil rig worker off the Gulf coast, a contractor working in Nigeria, or a businessperson stuck in London. Some scammers create phony profiles on dating websites and social media platforms to attract victims, establish relationships with them, and then trick them into sending money.

These scammers are committed to the long game and are particularly dangerous for this reason. They build your trust so they can betray it. If you believe you or someone you know may be a target of a sweetheart scammer, do not try to handle the situation yourself. Cut off all contact with the individual and contact local law enforcement. Be prepared to show evidence of online, phone and in-person contacts to help officials investigate the crime.

 


Missing Older Adults

Ohio has a statewide emergency alert system, managed by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, to aid in the identification and loation of missing adults who are age 65 or older or who are endangered and have a mental impairment. The Missing Adult Alert, patterned after portions of the AMBER Alert and Missing Child Alert, coordinates information to the media and public in a timely manner.

If a loved one has gone missing, please contact local law enforcement (police office, sheriff's office, 9-1-1) immediately.

Once the local law enforcement agency has confirmed that the individual is missing, they may issue a Missing Adult Alert. Alerts are reserved for situations in which the disappearance of the individual poses a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm or death to the individual. There also must be enough information known about the individual's description and how, when or why they went missing to make the alert effective at helping to locate and recover the individual.

Once activated, alerts are sent to media outlets around the state, posted on electronic billboards and highway message boards in the area of the alert, as well as shared by other means for getting the message out and collecting information about the individual's location.

Learn more about Missing Adult Alerts.

Sign up to receive Missing Adult Alerts via email, text or fax.

Scam Alert!

The Social Security Administration warns of a scam in which callers pretend to represent the agency and attempt to get individuals to take an action or provide personal information. Authorized Social Security representatives do not contact people in this manner. Learn more...

 

Find Services Where You Live

Area agencies on aging and other local resources can connect elders to community-based services and supports to maintain or increase their independence and help prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Learn about resources and programs to keep older Ohioans safe at home.

 
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Text "4help" to 741741