Older Georgians play a vital role in their communities. They are mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. Abuse of older and disabled adults is one of the most undetected and underreported problems in the U.S., and unfortunately happens on a regular basis. Abuse can occur in a person’s own home or in a community living arrangement like assisted living settings, personal care homes, or nursing homes.
At-risk adult abuse can take several forms, including:
- Physical abuse - using physical force to coerce or to inflict bodily harm. It often, but not always, causes physical discomfort, pain or injury. It may include the willful deprivation of essential services, such as medical care, food, or water.
- Emotional abuse - using tactics, such as harassment, insults, intimidation, isolation, or threats that cause mental or emotional anguish. It diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.
- Sexual abuse - any kind of sexual behavior directed towards an at-risk adult without the person’s full knowledge and consent. A spouse, partner, family member, or other trusted person can perpetrate sexual abuse.
- Financial abuse or exploitation - improperly or illegally using a person's resources for the benefit of another person, for example, using a Power of Attorney to gain access to an adult’s assets for personal gain or using undue influence, false representation, and other means to gain access to an adult’s monthly government checks.
- Neglect - occurs when a caregiver refuses or fails to provide essential services (food, water, shelter, medical care, etc.) to the degree that it harms or threatens to harm an older and/or disabled adult.
- Self-neglect - failing to perform essential self-care such as depriving oneself of necessities such as food, water, or medication. Consciously putting oneself in harm’s way or being unable to handle needs of day-to-day living because of medical, mental health or other disabilities. Self-neglect is not a crime.
What can you do if you suspect abuse, neglect, or exploitation? Call 911 if someone is in immediate danger. If you suspect the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older or disabled adult, contact the Division of Aging Services’ Adult Protective Services Central Intake at 1-866-552-4464 and select “3”. You can also report online here. Your report is confidential.
To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older adult or adult with a disability residing in a long-term care facility (i.e. community living arrangements, personal care homes, intermediate care or skilled nursing homes), contact the Department of Community Health's Healthcare Facility Regulation at 1-800-878-6442.
To learn more about reporting elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, click here.