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Child abuse is mandatory reporting and so is elder abuse when it occurs in residential care. What about when the individual doesn't live in residual care?
I am currently in my last year of social work degree and I'm researching why elder abuse is not covered for all elders in our community.
As you are probably aware elder abuse is on the increase as our aged population lives longer and they remain in their own homes or cared for my family members.
Do you feel as a neighbour if you witness a son abusing their elderly parent would you report it? If as a bank worker you noticed an elder's bank account diminishing rapidly since their family member became power attorney would you report it? But would they know who to report it too?
Elder abuse comes under domestic violence and research shows people do not like becoming involve when they witness or become aware of domestic violence occurring.
We also know for a lot of our aged population they cannot for themselves report being abused for various reasons, health reasons, fear of getting family into trouble, losing contact of family just to mention a few examples.
What are your opinions on making mandatory reporting for elder abuse in our community, would you support it? Would you support a helpline to be set up similar to that for child abuse to report elder abuse?
I realise there pros and cons for this subject and would like to hear those opinions please.
Thank you

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Physical abuse can occur after a person is driven to the point of frustration and anger, no one is going to stop and think about a law then, if they did there wouldn't be any murders, manslaughters, etal.
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If this law was there definitely it will make people think twice before they abuse a senior. For every law there are people who will try to misuse it. So it doesn't mean we should not have that law. I support mandatory reporting.
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JessieBelle I totally agree, carers are undervalued and recieve little if any support. Here in Australia and I am sure its a worldwide problem the shortage of residual care places. As our Elder population grows along with medical advances we are all living longer which has an impact on the services for the aged.
Like you said there is no easy solution for both the individual and for the carer. I guess all we really want is too grow old happily and with dignity. Dementia is a cruel and unforgiving disease the sooner they find a cure or a decent treatment the better. But that can be said for a long of diseases that plague our civilisation.
As a student its by reading your feedback and others I can gain insight into both sides of the story and hopefully take that insight with me into practice. Should I be lucky enough to gain employment into the aged care field I will be revisiting this website to further expand that insight.
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SW I am glad you brought this problem into the light-it needs to be addressed and I feel it is these days just as abuse to women is being talked about finally- a little late for me but God did protect me and I came out of the dark finally and stood my ground before he died. You are very insightfull and will make a good social worker-I hope you will continue to talk about this subject-an aide in a NH near hear was caught hitting a pt.-with a camera the daughter had put up in her mothers 's room -she hit the resident so hard she fell out of the w/c and this nursing home was believed to be one of the best.
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Mandatory report? No leave it where it is. Teachers and healthcare workers, who are currently licensed in their profession are mandatory child abuse reportersand are required to show they are current in their training whenever they renew a license. I would only support making it mandatory for elders if the reporters were healthcare workers not just the man or woman in the street.
Inflicting physical injury on another is a crime so of course that needs to be reported to the police.
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@ social work,
looks like you came to a good place to get input on this subject. most of the replies are from a carer perspective and influenced by personal experiences.
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Sure we don't want elder abuse, I don't want anyone to be abused. But, it is very important to "get out" the fact that those who give their all to care for their parents end up as Jesse Belle said at their whim. If they are delusional and one day take offense for being told not to reuse their toilet paper, they just might "get even" by telling a story. It is way for them to keep some sort of control. Truly not every elder is a sweet little person, sometimes they are quite passive agressive and totally annoyed by losing control and independence. Social Work should look into solving this problem.
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SocialWorker, each of us probably carried our own baggage into answering the question. Many of us know the flipside of elder abuse, and we can see how it could play out to harm family members who had done nothing wrong. If you read through many of the messages on this board, you'll find instances where caregivers are vulnerable to the whims of the people they care for and other family members. Care would have to be taken to not falsely accuse a caregiver or to make their already-heavy life any heavier. A good example is the one I gave about my mother being a confabulator. Since canfabulation is often present in older people, how would it be filtered out? The only way I can see is if the person reported saw the abuse themselves and didn't get the information secondhand. But then there is the problem of seeing abuse firsthand, because it is probably hidden in most instances. Many older people rarely leave their houses.

This is a daunting problem that has no easy solution. We want to stop elder abuse, but don't want to make the life of good caregivers more difficult.
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Not in a million years did I expect the responses I would get when I first posted this topic. I am a 4th year social work student in Australia. As part of my final course we hold a conference and give a 20 min speech on a topic of our choosing.
I have worked as an aged carer in the community and recently my grandmother moved into a nursing home so aged care is a very personal topic for me. During my studies of elder abuse in Australia it has been a struggle to find up to date stats on just how bad elder abuse is here in Australia.
Yes federal and state governments are "seen" to be doing something in prevention of elder abuse. I'm sure this is occurring internationally as well. the older our populations get and living longer the rate of elder abuse increases. my concern it will become an epidemic before we know it. one case of elder abuse is too many I feel.
Through out my 4 years of study to be a social worker I have been called a number of not so nice things. So I was not surprised when after a few comments about my posting of elder abuse comments would turn to stories of negative experiences with social workers. hopefully when I am working with elders and their carers I can have a positive influence.
Insight you have all given as carers and workers has been very informative. the main message is we wont tolerate elder abuse. how we prevent it/report it as I suspected is no easy effort.
the need to get the message out is a start and not just every couple of years but on a regular basis. the ostrich in the sand approach will not work.
thank you for your ongoing opinions
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Rural... I reported that I smacked her hand because it was the right thing to do. I reacted in an inappropriate manner. I'm not beating myself up about it... it happened. Was it abuse? No. However, if I had hid it, and it came out later... THAT would have been construed as abuse because I was not honest about it. Caregivers live on the edge of a double edged sword.

I can fully relate to what both Madeea, horserider, and Austin have posted. My brother commented here while back that I had an overly developed sense of responsibility. I have worked SO hard for SO long to ensure that mother has EVERYTHING she needs BEFORE she even knows she needs it. DHS quite often does not care that we take better care of our loved ones than a facility could. They seldom care that more abuse happens in facilities than in private homes. Fortunately both DHS workers I dealt with were able to ascertain mother was not abused; unfortunately many DHS workers believe the initial report they are given rather than taking the time to actually investigate. People are removed daily because of false reports. By having untrained people being mandatory reporters those removals can and WILL escalate.
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There are mandatory reporters who get training for what to look for-if I saw something I would think hard about reporting it-I no longer am a mandated reporter-but I know if a man is abusing a women and someone reports the women may be abused more or in many cases killed-and the most damgerouse time for her if she tries to leave her abuser-he will become more enraged he already feels he owns her. APS was contacted by a home care nurse and I was investigated and a social worker did come to our house and it was unfounded but what I went through was unreal-and by the way I was abused by my husband and a counsuler did not want to report it.
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MANDATORY reporting by citizens not practical, but hotlines, yes.

The issue of bruises -- argh! My Mom used to get bruises if someone looked at her cross-eyed when she was in her 30s, then for some random reason the problem went away (she wasn't being abused -- she'd bump against the tub while walking by it and get a silver-dollar size bruise). My Grandmother had bruises everywhere after hip surgery (IVs, blood draws, etc), but after recovering from the surgery and regaining weight she doesn't bruise much anymore. So no, bruises are NOT an indicator of abuse.

Often the reduction in the account is legitimate (ie need for elder care, doing long-deferred maintenance, paying back-bills, etc). Banks can and do report potential abuse to APS, but maybe a more organized approach is appropriate.
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If you are accused of and found to have abused then what will happen to your mother? that would be my bigger fear. Don't worry about yourself, you know your actions are good, so let them speak for themselves. False accusations put your mother at risk of losing a good caregiver. Point THAT out when the questions come up.
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i empathize with laura, if you ask for guidance from hospice or aps you get a bunch of chilling " no response " so you may be inclined to report mishaps in the interest of transparency. then your openness can be warped and used against you by halfassed ( "air of superiority", thank you sharyn, ) social workers.
i think the one size fits all tactics of aps right now is to preemptively instill coercion and fear into the carer and its a simpleminded, unhelpful, and unhealthy policy imo.
i think in general aps is prompt and effective but i wish they were less smug and more advisory.
alas, our current nurse admitted to me that this external pressure from aps is a strategy and we both had a good laugh but we both know its far from funny.
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Who needs the added STRESS of social workers buzzing around you like flies on a carcass? I turn myself inside out to take care of my mother, I am so stressed and I live in fear that if she trips, falls, runs into something I will be accused of doing it. If she refuses to eat, what do I do, she will refuse delicious dinners that takes lots of my time and work to prepare,but she will always eat cake and ice cream. If she loses a pound, for God's sakes I am frantic. I already have scale fear, LOL, when I go to the doctor, I tell them I must remove my eyeglasses, no extra weight, talk about anxiety, now when she goes, I am anxious that they say she doesn't weigh enough, so I put her coat on her LOL. Who needs this, I am the good guy, the supposed Cavalry, why am I suspect when I have given up everything to take care of her, I have NO life of my own, NO social life other than taking her to the doctor. I have no doubt that there are evil people out there abusing elderly, and as a matter of fact they are in nursing homes too. It is a fact, evil people do evil things to the young and old and anyone vulnerable. But, the social workers don't seem to find these people easily, perhaps it is too much of a work load or too hard a case for them, and they prefer an easier case, so they spend their time researching good, honest people. If you are evil, you are going to hide it well. I am sick of this, I wait on my mother hand and foot, she does have a personal pull toy that she can threaten with abuse if she felt she was losing some warped control that is left in her conciousness. As for me, I told my mother, if I ever am accused of anything and placed in such jeaopardy again, she is on her own. I will help her get someone else or have her placed by her friendly social worker in a nice nursing home, that for her sake does not have too many abusive caretakers.
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I don't get it. If a smack on the hand isn't abuse, why would you have to report it?
You know there's no abuse, you don't even suspect abuse. Duh(?)
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ruralwannabe, what state are you in? Is the reporting mandatory for private citizens? Under what circumstances must they report abuse? If an elder just tells a person he is being abused, does that person have to report it? If so, I guess that must solve the unemployment problem in your state ... I can't imagine how many folks it would take to man those phone lines, let alone investigate the claims. My huband, who had a fairly mild journey with dementia overall, went through a period when he'd tell neighbors that he was being held against his will, and he'd walk across the street to use the neighbor's phone to call the sheriff. Should they have reported me for abuse? Those kinds of accusations are EXTREMELY common in dementia. How is the average untrained observer supposed to know when to suspect actual abuse? Mandatory reporting? Not for private citizens, in my opinion.
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Having been on the receiving end of being reported for elder abuse (twice) I can tell you that there are two sides (sometimes more) to EVERY story! I think there needs to be a help line for caregivers! I have sported more bruises in the last two years from my mother attacking me than I've had in my ENTIRE life!

When my step daughter moved out of my house she was mad at my husband. She stole all of my jewelry (about $3K), almost all of the meat in our freezer (about $2K), turned me in to DHS for slugging my mother (not true), and turned her father in to PD for selling drugs (also not true). The social worker took three months to finally close the case, even though it was unfounded. It wasn't that she kept trying to dig up dirt, it was that she held such a heavy caseload. Mother's case manager has known mother for 10 years in one capacity or another and was able to vouch for the level of care mother receives. However, that 3 month period of waiting for the response was VERY stressful!

The last time my mother slugged me in the jaw she left a fist sized bruise on my face that lasted two weeks! Yes I smacked her hand for it and told her not to do that again. It was a knee jerk reaction. I told her nurse what happened and offered her the chance to look mother over for signs of abuse... i.e. bruising, etc. The nurse declined. Then she went back to the office and told the social worker that I slugged my mother! There is a WORLD of difference between a smack and a slug! Fortunately the DHS social worker (a different one from the previous time) was able to see that mother was well cared for. Unfortunately, that made the 2nd report on me in a year's time. Thus I have had to be twice as diligent to ensure she didn't injure herself in any way, and I had to learn to get the hell out of her way when she was trying to attack me since I am not allowed to defend myself or respond to her abuse!

I agree that elder abuse is a HUGE problem. I also know that the reverse happens just as often, if not more often. Caregiving is difficult enough without having untrained people trying to report people for suspected abuse.

As for the banking... mother's bank if VERY diligent in monitoring their seniors' bank accounts. Mother pays her rent twice a year rather than monthly. EACH time, they come out and talk to me to make sure that this is something valid.

Additionally... as a CDAC provider through Medicaid, I am a mandatory reporter. If I did something (sch as smack mother's hand) I had to report it (which I did) even when it wasn't abuse.
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I am not in favor for one big reason. My mother is a confabulator. She has little grasp on what is true and not true anymore. So suppose she told a neighbor that I did terrible things to her and the neighbor knew it was mandatory to report. I might have to spend the rest of my mother's life proving I wasn't doing anything wrong. Of course, I wouldn't do that. I would just place my mother in a NH and leave.

Confabulation is very common in elderly people. Often the untrue stories become the truth in their mind, so if investigated, the elder would agree that it is what happened. The caregiver could be nailed to the wall for something they didn't even do.

I don't know if there is much need for a hotline in many places. I had one friend that worked with Human Resources and their department was very responsive to reports of elder abuse. A simple call to the county could launch an investigation. My friend had some horror stories of elder abuse and neglect, but few people outside the home could see it.
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Mandatory reporting for the average citizen is a bit much. I think public education of abuse would get the word out. I have heard of family members who reported a sibling to APS just out of spite. When my mothers dr. told us mom could not live alone anymore, he was mandated to report it to APS. APS did follow up by visiting my mom and a month later they called me. The bank could easily report my sis for possible financial abuse because we have had to write many checks recently as a result of moving mom to an AL/memory care unit.
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And don't even get me started about the social workers our family was forced to deal with while my daughter and her husband were going through adoption proceedings. Talk about shivers up my spine!! Lets just the say the air of superiority was stifling for one thing.
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I think it shoudl be mandatory to put "social workers" in jail for a year with all the victims and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, then let's talk.
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Madeaa, yep I do. And there are lots of other people who have been falsely "reported" for "crimes" they didn't commit either. How do people know the family dynamics involved in these situations? How is a bank teller going to claim she knows what's going on? At my bank I rarely see the same person twice.
I don't need the government telling me to report something I'd do automatically. But of course, as is always the case with all these laws, ONE person ruins it for all of us. It sends shivers up my spine when something like this is tagged mandatory. It brings to mind Germany 1940s style or modern day countries where neighbor spies on neighbor. Seeing anybody being beaten up is grounds for reporting. But you had better know what you're talking about when you report something in the gray area. Like I said, you had best be careful what you wish for or it can come back to bite you in the rear end.
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Well taking care of my mother is turning me into a little old lady knitting a straight jacket, I still have rock and roll left in me. How are you going to enforce Mandatory reporting, do you throw everyone in jail around the house, do you fine them? I sure would like to be compensated for the world of hurt I received from being accused of being abusive. Do you have any idea what that feels like?
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I would consider mandatory reporting IF there was a hotline for the abused caregivers also. I thought there were agencies and departments to call about abuse already. I don't consider it "abuse" to not respect or value an elder. That is a moral issue. Some of you obviously were not raised by abusive parents.
In order to prove I wasn't taking my moms money or that I stole her social security card, I had to get a lawyer and pay him to show her claims were false. If people could just say I didn't do it, then fine. Spending my money on a lawyer wasn't fine. I was already paying her bills with my own money then I had to get a lawyer to prove I was helping her. There are two sides to this topic. Not all elders are sweet little old ladies sitting in a wheelchair knitting for the poor.
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lol, i like to listen to and respect the elders thoughts. i particularily like the repetitive ones based on obsession, chock full of distortions and exagerations and of course the hours of persecutory delusion. the bipolar highs and lows are what i live for.
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@ rural,
youd have to inject people with sodium penathol to uncover their every motive for caring in home for an elder. it may be part necessity , obligation, mutual benefit, love, could be a combination of things but someone tending to an elders needs around the clock for years is not living the high life. they are sacrificing in ways unimagined to someone who hasnt been in that position. if they recieve some compensation or inheritance they probably earned it ten times over.
i still maintain that a sick relationship can be spotted a mile away by a good doc.
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aha. Good discussion! I am in favor of mandatory reporting, the danger is in the crying wolf that might slow the response to valid cries. The answer would be the help line that discussed the issue to help discern if the behavior qualifies as abuse. When I think of elder abuse, I think more of the Whatever Happened to BabyJane type - remember that old movie where Betty Davis was an invalid and her sister as caregiver would inflict emotional abuse. As a prisoner in a wheelchair, nothing physical or even verbal was done, the kind of abuse I fearis to not respect, to withhold attention or social interaction. To not listen to an elders thoughts because they don't value them, and perhaps to gain a roof or a possible inheritance by just sticking around. That is insidious and hard to establish. Only regular visits and care for the caregiver so they don't harbor resentments. So yes, I favor mandatory abuse reporting. We have it in my state.
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I bought about 30 songs on itunes. Had never downloaded music before in my life and my bank called me to see if it was me downloading that stuff or had my account been compromised? I appreciated them checking in. Which is totally not the point.....

I thought there were elder abuse hotlines already?

Would I call one if I thought an elder were being abused or neglected? It would depend upon what I witnessed but yes, I would call a hotline if I thought an elder were being abused. Of course I would.
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I can understand the impact of being wrongly investigated for elder abuse. But would you rather be investigated and proven innocent than this be completely forgotten and elder abuse within our society continue to escalate. To me personally it would show someone cares.
I agree a helpline/hotline for elder abuse needs to be set up for people that can ring if they feel they have witnessed/suspect elder abuse. I personally would rather report something and if proven wrong I would apologize than turn a blind eye and let that individual continue to be abused.
As for banks yes I admit it would be hard to monitor but I was thinking of bank tellers who see regular customers and notice a sudden change in the aged person's account. Once again it would be better to be wrong than turn a blind eye and allow this to continue to happen if you suspect elder abuse.
Its not a quick fix solution and community awareness needs to be addressed. Not with tv commercials shown once every couple of years but shown regularly on TV, billboards every type of advertisement,
We are all god willing grow old one day and I would like to think it can be done in safe fulfilling environment free of all forms of abuse. Education of the community is needed to achieve this.
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