“DHR will investigate the situation and evaluate the mental capacity of the senior and the level of risk she faces. The agency will write a case plan that is created especially for this client. If she accepts the services, DHR will implement the plan.”
The problem of elder abuse is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Our seniors fall victim to many forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, and neglect and abandonment. It is fortunate that people are trying to do something about it. If you are 60 or 65 years of age or older, there are social services agencies across America dedicated to your protection. They fall under the umbrella of Adult Protective Services (DHR in Alabama). If you have elderly friends or relatives, you may wonder, how Adult Protective Services can help your loved one?
Adult Protective Services are different in every state, because they were originally founded and operated at the state and local levels. After a few decades of the state and local agencies doing the best they could to protect our aging population, the federal government finally stepped in. Unfortunately, there is still a wide variation in the services provided from one place to another.
How Reports of Concern are Handled
The agencies use a five-step process to manage reports:
- Someone contacts the local DHR office with a concern about the welfare of a senior. You do not have to be the senior to report the situation. If you are worried about the well-being of a loved one, a neighbor, or another aging adult, you can make the call to DHR. Reporting is confidential.
- An DHR worker will review the report to determine if the situation appears to meet the qualifications for neglect, abuse or exploitation based on the local laws.
- If, after performing this “triage,” the DHR worker feels the allegations qualify as neglect, abuse, or exploitation, she will contact the aging adult in person, face-to-face.
- The DHR worker will evaluate whether the senior is safe and whether he needs assistance. The worker will offer services that could protect the senior’s well-being and keep him safe and independent.
- The aging adult may either accept or refuse the services offered by the DHR worker. DHR forces no one to accept their services.
How DHR Helps Seniors
DHR works in cooperation with such professionals as law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters and medical personnel. DHR will investigate the situation and evaluate the mental capacity of the senior, and the level of risk she faces. The agency will write a case plan created just for this client, and, if she accepts the services, DHR will implement the plan. The agency also works to find additional services and benefits for the client. The DHR worker will keep an eye on the situation to make sure the senior receives the planned services.
Most states require specified people and organizations to report to the DHR, concerns of abuse or neglect of seniors. Some examples of mandated reporters are:
- Law enforcement
- Medical, mental health or dental service providers
- Ambulance companies and other emergency responders
- Social service agencies
- Financial services companies
Since DHR agencies are different in every state, you can ensure the best protection for your loved one by talking with an elder law attorney in your area.
National Adult Protective Services Association. “What is Adult Protective Services?” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/how-DHR-helps/
Findlaw. “Adult Protective Services: What You Need to Know.” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://elder.findlaw.com/elder-abuse/adult-protective-services-what-you-need-to-know.html