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Elder Protective Services
Elder Protective Services Program
The Executive Office of Elder Affairs is required by law to administer a statewide system for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse, and for providing needed protective services to abused elders when warranted. To fulfill this responsibility, Elder Affairs has established 22 designated Protective Services (PS) agencies throughout the Commonwealth to respond to reports of elder abuse.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The specificity of laws varies from state to state, but broadly defined, abuse may be:
- Abandonment - The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person
- Emotional Abuse - Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts
- Exploitation - Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property or assets of a vulnerable elder
- Neglect - Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder
- Physical abuse - Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need
- Sexual Abuse - Non-consentual sexual contact of any kind
The goal of protective services is to remedy or alleviate the abusive situation and to prevent the reoccurrence of abuse.
Reporting Elder Abuse
Elder abuse reports may be made to the appropriate designated PS agency or the statewide Elder Abuse Hotline (800-922-2275), which operates on a seven days a week, 24 hours a day basis. Typically, elder abuse reports are made to PS agencies during normal business hours and to the Hotline during after-hours periods, on weekends and holidays.
Required to Report
Anyone can make an elder abuse report. However, the law requires certain professionals to report suspected incidents of abuse. Mandated reporters who fail to make elder abuse reports when appropriate are subject to a fine up to $1,000. In addition, the law provides mandated reporters with immunity from any civil or criminal liability that otherwise could result from making a report, provided the reporter did not commit the abuse. Persons who are not mandated reporters have the same immunity, as long as they make a report in good faith.