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What happens when one reports elder abuse?

If a person suspects that someone they know has been a victim of or is currently experiencing ongoing elder abuse, that person can report the suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Any person who reports alleged abuse being perpetrated on an elderly person will be asked to provide their name and contact information during the intake.

It is important to note, however, that the concerned caller has the right to remain anonymous. Additionally, anyone reporting elderly abuse can expect to receive complete legal protection from experiencing any retaliation or discrimination and even civil or criminal prosecution merely for reporting the abuse, regardless of whether the allegations turn out to be true or not.

The reporter will also be asked to provide the victim's name, address and any other contact information, as well as a description of the allegations, and the name as well as any other pertinent information that helps identify the perpetrator. Finally, they should also expect to be asked to provide a status description of the physical and emotional health of the victim as well as any concerns that may threaten the immediate safety and well-being of the elderly victim.

Similarly, victims of systemic and ongoing elder abuse should know that they can end the abuse and protect themselves by contacting the Department of Aging themselves. Trained specialists will then help them get in contact with a local agency that will intervene and investigate the nature of the abuse that they are being subjected to.

Once the agency is notified of the elder abuse, a case worker is assigned and sent out to conduct an investigation. If the situation is deemed an emergency, the caseworker will be assigned usually within 24 hours. It is also important to note that any information supplied to the agency is confidential. In some cases seeking legal help may be necessary to get justice for the elderly person and their family.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "Administration on Aging," Accessed July 20, 2015

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