Fighting Elder Abuse in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, disabled adults of any age are to be protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The law states that “any person having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult is in need of protective services shall report such information.”
The areas defined under North Carolina law are:
Abuse: willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation by a caretaker of services necessary to maintain mental and physical health.
Neglect: a disabled adult who is either living alone and not able to provide for himself the services necessary to maintain his mental or physical health (self-neglect) or is not receiving needed services from his or her caretaker.
Exploitation: illegal or improper use of a disabled adult or his resources for another’s profit or advantage.
Anyone who suspects that a vulnerable or older adult is in need of protection is required by North Carolina law (NCGS Section 108A-102) to report this to the Department of Social Services in the county where the adult resides.
From a brochure
developed by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, in Fiscal Year 2012-2013, there were over 20,000 reports alleging the abuse, neglect or exploitation in North Carolina to the County DSS offices. Of those, 70% were 60 years or older, 15% lived in a facility or shelter, and 85% lived alone or with family. Signs of neglect to watch for include:
- Bruises, burns, cuts, scratches
- Sprains, fractures, dislocations, malnutrition
- Untreated medical condition(s)
- Unsafe or unsanitary housing
- Mental anguish and distress
- Mistrust towards others
- Unpaid utility and other bills
- Mismanaged property or savings
- Sudden change in will or power of attorney
- Unable to provide needed care
Financial exploitation is extremely high as well. The State Attorney General’s office has a Senior Consumer Fraud Task Force, with listings at its website for the multitude of scams targeting seniors and their savings. This information can be found at the State Attorney General’s Website at www.ncdoj.gov.