Elderly adults are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Whether the person in question lives in a facility, such as in assisted living or a nursing home, or depends upon receiving care from someone else, he or she needs assistance and is, therefore, vulnerable to neglect and abuse. Because aging victims of abuse are often incapable of reporting abuse and/or neglect themselves, it is important for their loved ones and/or observers who witness what they believe are signs of abuse to report it (or their suspicions thereof). If you suspect elder abuse or have witnessed what you believe qualifies as elder abuse, don’t hesitate to report it – you could help diffuse a life-threatening situation, and it’s the right thing to do. If you have questions or concerns about elder abuse, don’t wait to contact an experienced South Carolina elder abuse attorney today.
Filing an Elder Abuse Complaint
In the State of South Carolina, you can – if you feel more comfortable doing so – anonymously report any incidents of suspected nursing home abuse or neglect to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), which is responsible for violations of licensing standards (in nursing homes and assisted living facilities). You can make your complaint in written or verbal form, and if you do include your identity but request confidentiality, DHEC will not reveal your identity unless it is mandated to do so by state or federal law. Once you make your complaint, all of the following apply (as applicable):
- An inspector will be assigned.
- DHEC will send you written acknowledgment of your complaint.
- Once the investigation is completed, the inspector will send you a written report that includes its findings.
While you may have very good reasons for wanting to report elder abuse anonymously, the bottom line is that it’s too important a matter not to report, which makes reporting elder abuse – any way you can – paramount.
Filing an Elder Abuse Complaint Anonymously
There are a variety of reasons for filing elder abuse complaints anonymously.
Reasons Related to One’s Profession
People who work in the field of caring for the elderly, such as in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, often prefer to remain anonymous when reporting elder abuse – out of concern for their jobs.
Those reporting the abuse of the elderly sometimes fear being retaliated against by the abusers themselves. It is difficult to predict what a person who would stoop to harming one of the most vulnerable among us would resort to when called out on his or her egregious actions.
The Avoidance of Embarrassment
It is not uncommon for those who are abused – including the elderly – to be ashamed and/or embarrassed of the situation they find themselves in. While victims are in no way responsible for the abuse they suffer, those reporting their abuse may want to minimize the amount of attention focused on them – by reporting anonymously. Further, the person reporting the abuse may be invested in keeping the attention off of himself or herself.
Where to Report Elder Abuse
If you suspect – or have actually witnessed – elder abuse, your primary concern should be reporting it. The sooner you report the issue, the sooner the authorities can do something about it. And because the elderly are so vulnerable, there is no time to waste. Your report may have more impact if it isn’t made anonymously, so it’s important to weigh your need to make an unidentified report against the urgency of the situation.
In South Carolina, you can report the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults by contacting the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-888-227-3487. A member of the intake staff will assist you with your report and will process the information therein to determine if an investigation is in order. If the circumstances you report warrant an investigation with an investigative entity other than SCDSS, they will refer your report to the appropriate source. Finally, if you witness abuse that amounts to an emergency, call 911. An emergency amounts to anything that leaves the elderly person in question is in imminent danger of being harmed or worse.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) relays that elder abuse is a silent problem that robs the aging of their dignity, security, and – in some cases – costs them their lives. In fact, the statistics related to elder abuse are sobering and include:
- About five million aging Americans suffer abuse every year.
- About one in 10 Americans who are 60 and over have fallen victim to elder abuse in one form or another.
- It is estimated that only about 1 in every 24 cases of elder abuse are ultimately reported.
- About 60 percent of all incidents involving elder abuse and/or neglect are perpetrated by family members, and two-thirds of these perpetrators are either adult children or spouses of the victims.
- The annual loss related to financial abuse of the elderly is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion annually.
The Most Common Forms of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can take many dangerous forms, but the basic categories of such abuse include:
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Passive neglect
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Willful deprivation
If there are any signs that your loved one is the victim of elder neglect or abuse, don’t look away. Reporting the matter is always the right thing to do, and it is absolutely better to err on the side of caution than to leave your aging relative vulnerable to harm.
An Experienced South Carolina Elder Abuse Attorney Can Help
If you have concerns about elder abuse or neglect, the dedicated elder abuse attorneys at McCravy Law in South Carolina have the experience, drive, and compassion to help you find the support you need and to help your loved one obtain the compensation to which he or she is entitled. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 864-388-9100 today.