Preventing Elder Abuse
The services provided by a retirement community may decrease the risk of self-neglect, since it often occurs due to isolation, lack of support services and/or inability to care for oneself. The lifestyle and numerous activities within a CCRC provide opportunities and supports that decrease the chance of isolation and inadequate self-care.
The services offered and the policies and procedures in place at a retirement community may also reduce the risk of abuse by others. Staff is available to help resolve issues that may lead to abuse, either by a spouse or between unrelated residents.
Steps to Prevention
In all levels of the CCRC - independent living, assisted living and nursing home - licensed staff (physicians, nurses, social workers and therapists) are required by law to report any cases of suspected abuse. This protection in the law ensures that there can still be identification and investigation of a case, even if the older person is reluctant or unable to report it.
CCRCs require a background check and fingerprints for all staff as part of their procedure to prevent abuse of residents. In addition, the retirement community must educate staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and how to report suspected abuse.
If you suspect a vulnerable person (your loved one, a friend or another resident) in the independent living section is abused or neglected, contact the administrator or social worker immediately. If your concerns are not resolved promptly, or if you want to ensure there will be an investigation by a public agency, call the local office of the Department of Social Services to make an Adult Protective Services referral. The number in Baltimore County is 410-853-3000.
If the individual lives in the assisted living unit or nursing care unit and you suspect abuse, a report can be made to the local police, the Ombudsman Program and/or the Office of Health Care Quality in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (410-402-8201).