Approximately 10,000 incidents of abuse involving vulnerable adults are reported in Louisiana each year, but that is only a fraction of the true number of incidents, most of which are never reported. Research from the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) shows that 90 percent of elder abusers are family members or others who are trusted. Research also shows that abuse of vulnerable adults occurs in all communities, regardless of income, ethnicity or religious background. Vulnerable adults who experience abuse, neglect or self-neglect face a considerably higher risk of premature death than those adults who have not been mistreated.
"Isolation is common for older persons and can make them more vulnerable to abuse, so it's imperative that we all continue to make an effort to engage with and protect our seniors," said Louisiana Department of Health's Tara LeBlanc, assistant secretary for the Office of Aging and Adult Services.
Louisiana law mandates that all residents who suspect abuse must report it. The law grants immunity to those who report in good faith. Louisiana law protects those who are unable to recognize and remedy serious threats to their personal well-being.
On Wednesday, June 15, the LDH will recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is encouraging all Louisiana residents to report any form of abuse that they may witness, including financial abuse.
Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of abuse of older adults, but it is among the least commonly reported, with only one in 44 cases of financial abuse ever being reported. Financial abuse may include theft, misuse or concealment of funds, property or assets from older individuals. NAPSA estimated that vulnerable adults throughout the United States lose a minimum of $2.9 billion annually due to financial abuse or exploitation.
Signs of financial abuse include:
- a lack of amenities the victim could afford,
- a vulnerable adult "voluntarily" giving uncharacteristically excessive financial reimbursements/gifts for needed care and companionship,
- caregivers having control of adult's money but failing to provide for their needs, or
- a vulnerable adult signing property transfers (a new will, power of attorney, etc.) but being unable to comprehend the transaction or what it means.
To report adult abuse, neglect or exploitation call (800) 898-4910 or visit LDH's Adult Protective Services website at www.dhh.la.gov/aps. Reports may be made anonymously, and all reports are confidential. This hotline is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.