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February 13, 2007


The Source of Information and Assistance on Elder Abuse

The Community Response

If You Need Help

Adult Protective Services

Adult Protective Services (APS) is the principal public agency responsible both for investigating reported cases of elder and vulnerable adult abuse and for providing victims with treatment and protective services.

Although most APS agencies also handle adult abuse cases (serving clients between 18 and 59 years of age), nearly 70 percent of their caseloads involve elder abuse.

Usually, the APS Unit, Area Agency on Aging, or County Department of Social Services is designated as the agency to receive and investigate allegations of elder abuse and neglect. If the investigators find abuse or neglect, they arrange for services to help protect the victim.

Many other agencies (and nonprofit organizations) are also actively working to protect vulnerable elders. Examples:

  • State agency on aging
  • Law enforcement agency (local police, sheriff's office, district attorney, the court system)
  • Medical examiner/coroner's office
  • Hospitals and medical clinics
  • State long-term care ombudsman's office
  • Public health agency
  • Area agency on aging
  • Mental health agency
  • Facility licensing/certification agency

Learn More . . .

Law Enforcement

Local police, sheriffs, and prosecuting attorneys may investigate and prosecute abuse, particularly in cases involving sexual abuse or assault. In states whose statutes make elder abuse a crime, there may be a requirement to report suspected abuse to a law enforcement agency.

Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Services

State LTC ombudsman programs investigate and resolve nursing home complaints, and in some areas, complaints about board and care facilities and professional home care providers. If you are concerned about abuses, check with your State Unit on Aging or Area Agency on Aging to see if the LTC ombudsman program in your area can help.

Information and Referral (I & R)

Every Area Agency on Aging operates an I & R line that can refer people to a wide range of services for people 60 and older. Trained information operators and can be particularly helpful in finding services that can help prevent abuse and neglect.

National and State Information

Family members who live in different cities or states can call a nationwide toll-free Eldercare Locator number (1-800-677-1116) to find support and resources that can help. On the web at In addition, some states have established a statewide toll-free number to provide centralized aging services information for residents of their states.

Medicaid Fraud and Abuse

Every State Attorney General's Office is required by federal law to have a State Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate and prosecute Medicaid provider fraud and patient abuse or neglect in healthcare programs that participate in Medicaid, including home health care. Information on how you can report fraud and who you should contact can be found at Reporting Fraud and Abuse in Your State.

National Center on Elder Abuse
1201 15th Street, N.W., Suite 350 · Washington, DC 20005-2842
(202) 898-2586 · Fax: (202) 898-2583 · Email: [email protected]