NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Tennessee’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program receives about 20,000 calls a year, highlighting the problem of elder abuse.
Three years before his 2014 death, famed movie star Mickey Rooney testified before Congress about the abuse he claimed to have suffered at the hands of a caregiver. Rooney told lawmakers a step son made him a prisoner in his own home.
“I was eventually and completely stripped of the ability to make even the most basics decisions.”
Protective Services Director Renee Bouchillon says that, here in Tennessee, defrauding seniors is the most common problem the agency sees. Bouchillon says signs that the elderly are being abused are actually pretty easy to spot.
“Maybe there’s no food in the home, utilities are cut off, or the home is just not well maintained. We also see sometimes people doing without medications when they’re being exploited.”
Director Bouchillon says, Mickey Rooney’s experience is typical. Family members are most often the abusers; commonly an adult son or daughter. She says if you’re suspicions are aroused, never look away.
“Start asking questions, and trying to figure out if that vulnerable adult is safe, and if they do have suspicions give us a call.”
Bouchillon notes that Tennessee is a mandatory report state, meaning you are required by law to go to authorities with any evidence you have of elder abuse.
If you would like to report a case of elder abuse, please call 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366). You can also report suspected abuse online at this secure website: https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/.
Would you like to review the TBI's 2011 report on elder abuse in Tennessee?
Here is a news release from APS outlining some of the more common signs of elder abuse:
Tennessee Department of Human Services Brings Awareness to Elder AbuseTuesday, October 03, 2017 | 12:21pm
Loved ones needed to help protect against fraud.
NASHVILLE – Family members, friends and clergy reported 32% of the cases of financial exploitation against an elderly person in Tennessee last year according to the Adult Protective Services (APS) division of the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS).
The vast majority, 61%, are reported by professionals like doctors and social workers.
“Protecting older adults from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation is something we all need to be concerned about,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “For us to truly build a thriving Tennessee that includes the financial health and well-being of our seniors, we need to have everyone in the community serve as gatekeepers and report any suspicious activity to APS.”
October is Fraud and Financial Awareness Month and TDHS wants families and friends to be aware of how to spot signs of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Common signs include:
- Sudden changes in the person’s financial condition
- Financial activity the person couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden
- Large withdrawals from the person’s bank account
- No food in the home, the utilities are cut off and the home is not maintained
- The person is unaware of their finances
- Unpaid bills
- A drastic change in the person’s quality of life
There are also steps that can be taken to prevent fraud and financial exploitation.
- Add your phone number to the Do Not Call list and remove your address from mailing lists
- Be aware of common scams by checking listings through consumer report resources
Report suspected abuse of the elderly and vulnerable adults?
Call toll free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) or report suspected abuse online at this secure website: https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/
The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that 1 in 20 older adults have indicated some form of perceived financial mistreatment in the recent past.
Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.