Newsroom > DHHS News Release

June 9, 2010

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287

We All Have the Power to Prevent Elder Abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15

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Lincoln – Elder abuse can happen to any older individual, but experts estimate that only one in five cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation is reported.

“Some people may have impairments that make them more vulnerable to neglect, abuse, self-neglect or exploitation,” said Todd Reckling, director of the Division of Children and Family Services in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “We all have the power to protect our older family members and friends by noticing what’s happening in their lives and calling the hotline when necessary. Let’s work together to stop elder abuse!”

State law requires anyone who suspects abuse or neglect to report it to the DHHS toll-free hotline at 1-800-652-1999 or to local law enforcement.

During 2009, DHHS received 7,093 reports alleging possible abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults of all ages who were living in their home or in a facility like a nursing home.

The goal of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is simple – to know the warning signs and to stop abuse or neglect from happening in the first place. Warning signs can include unexplained bruises, pressure ulcers, lack of medical care, malnutrition, self-neglect, or money or items disappearing from the person’s accounts or home.

Taking these steps can help prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation:

  • Reporting suspected mistreatment;
  • Keeping in contact and talking with older friends, neighbors and relatives;
  • Noticing what is happening with the older people in our lives; and
  • Contacting a local Area Agency on Aging office to identify local programs and supports to maintain well-being and independence, such as Meals on Wheels.

The DHHS Divisions of Children and Family Services and Medicaid and Long-Term Care are collaborating to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.