How do you know if a senior is being abused? And, if you do know, how do you report it? These are two of the most common questions we receive here at IN-CASE. So we turned to one of our members for answers. The following comes from Deputy Prosecutor Cynthia Oetjen with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.
Indiana law defines an endangered adult as a person over 18 who is incapable of managing self-care or property because of a physical or mental incapacity and are harmed or threatened with harm as a result of neglect, self-neglect, battery or exploitation. Some signs of abuse of neglect are:
Frequent or unexplained injuries
Malnutrition or weight loss without some medical cause
Lack of medical care
Changes in personality such as fearfulness, social withdrawal or depression
A dependent person may be left unattended for long periods of time or have implausible stories about injuries or other life events. There may be unnecessary Powers of Attorneys (POA) or a Guardianship.
Adult Protective Services (APS) will investigate reports of endangered adults and can sometimes take legal action to protect elderly or disabled victims. Investigators may also use medical and psychiatric resources in the community when necessary to protect the health and safety of endangered adults. These resources include residential facilities, local hospitals, the local Area on Aging, mental health centers and other social services agencies.
You can make a confidential report of an endangered adult by calling the Indiana State APS hotline at 1-800 992-6978. Please provide as much information as possible when making a report including: name, address, age and disability (if known), a description of the situation or incident, names of other individuals who may have information and the name of the alleged perpetrator (if known).
It is a crime under Indiana law for a person who believes that an endangered adult is the victim of battery, neglect or exploitation and choose not to report. You are also protected if you make a report. A person who in good faith makes a report is immune from civil and criminal liability.
Cynthia Oetjen is a deputy prosecutor for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office and works with Adult Protective Services. She is also an active IN-CASE member and talented public speaker. She's included in our list of available speakers, all of whom provide presentations free of charge.