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First responders often find themselves in a position where they can identify signs of
abuse. The forms that most quickly come to mind are child or spouse, but elder abuse
affects hundreds of thousands every year by family members or “trusted others.” A new
national pocket guide helps first responders identify the seven types of abuse while
providing backup information to help.
“Legal Issues Related to Elder Abuse” states physical, sexual, or psychological abuse;
neglect; and financial exploitation all qualify as reportable elder abuse. It covers risk
factors to consider; legal topics such as consent, decision-making capacity, and undue
influence; abusers; and how a variety of circumstances can be related or relevant to
elder abuse issues.
Self-neglect is not a crime; however it can still be reported. Most states have laws
requiring people in authority to report abuse, and not reporting it is often a crime. Also,
though many people think of abuse as only physical, financial exploitation is hardly
rare. If something looks fishy but you are not sure, report it. As a responding officer or
EMS provider, your voice may be the last chance an abused or neglected elder has to
escape such a situation.