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Elder Abuse

Abuse occurs in all types of relationships and among people with varying backgrounds of age, race, religion, financial status, sexual orientation and education. Elder abuse is any act that causes harm or threatens the risk of harm to a person 60 years of age or older. Elder abuse may be physical, sexual, financial, verbal or emotional in nature, and may also include neglect or exploitation.

Every year, 2 million older persons in the United States are at risk to experience abuse.

The signs for elder abuse may include the following:

  • Neglect is the failure of an adult to provide the goods or services necessary for his or her own safety and/or wellbeing, or the failure of a caregiver to provide such goods or services.
  • Exploitation is the unlawful or improper act of a caregiver using an adult or his/her resources for monetary or personal benefit or gain.
  • 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. It can also mean placing an individual in incorrect positions, force feeding, restraining or inappropriately administering/withholding medication.
  • 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, but it can also mean forced or coerced nudity, exhibitionism and other non-touching sexual situations, regardless of the age of the perpetrator.

Respond and Refer
If an elder person is in immediate danger, call 911. In non-emergency cases, you may contact Adult Protective Services (APS) through the Department of Job and Family Services. APS is responsible for investigating cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation for persons 60 years of age or older. APS also investigates abuse of adults with developmental disabilities and works collaboratively with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to respond to these individuals. When making a report, you should try to include the following information, although it is not required:

  • Name and address of the elder person you suspect is being abused or neglected
  • Age of the elder person
  • Name of the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting the elder person and the address, if available
  • The reason you suspect the elder person is being abuse or neglected
  • Any other information which may be helpful to the investigation

Adult Protective Services is required to initiate an investigation of “emergency” reports within 24 hours of referral or all other reports within three business days. Emergency reports are ones in which there is suspected to be a substantial risk of immediate harm to the elderly person. The investigator is required to meet face-to-face with the person reported to have been abused or neglected. A determination is made in writing as to whether or not there is a need for further protective services.


The Probate Court is responsible for determining if requests for an investigation are reasonable, and the responsibility of the person suspected of abuse or neglect to respond. Adult Protective Services can petition the court for assistance when the person suspected of abuse or neglect refuses to cooperate with their investigation.

Adult Protective Services provides case management services, including referrals for mental health services, legal services, medical services, housing-related services, guardianship, financial management, food, clothing or shelter.

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