Reporting suspected elder abuse outside of Health Care Facilities (e.g., in the victim’s home or another community setting)
If you suspect that an older adult who does not reside in a licensed health care facility is being, or is about to be, abused, your next step depends on whether that older adult lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his or her daily needs. Follow the steps below.
1. If the person is vulnerable, e.g., lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his or her own daily needs, then you should call the local Adult Protective Services (APS) office. There is a local APS office in each county’s Department of Social Services (as well as Baltimore City’s). You can find the list of offices at http://dhr.maryland.gov/local-offices
. Alternatively, you can call the statewide abuse number to report at 1-800-332-6347. APS will send out an investigator if it believes the person may be vulnerable.
Please note that if you believe a crime is in progress or is about to be consummated, e.g., an older adult with a disability is about to suffer a theft, then you may also call your local police by dialing 9-1-1.
2. If you are not sure if the older adult has a disability severe enough to qualify him or her as lacking the physical or mental capacity to provide for his or her daily needs, call APS anyway. APS will make the determination. There is no penalty or downside to referring someone to APS as APS will eventually find out if that person has the capacity to provide for his or her own daily needs.
3. If the person has the physical or mental capacity to provide for his or her daily needs, then there are quite a few options for referral depending on the nature of the abuse. You may discuss with the victim why you suspect he or she is being abused. You can then explain how he or she can stop the abuse, report it, or both. Keep in mind, you may not be able to convince the victim, or you may decide it would be counter-productive to try to convince the victim that he or she is being abused. Think very carefully about reporting without the victim’s consent. Additional information can be found on this document or click the image below: https://dhs.maryland.gov/documents/Brochures/Adult%20Services%20Flyers/SSA-AdultProtectiveAbuse_dg.pdf
Please note that in domestic abuse matters, it can be dangerous to report suspected abuse without the victim’s consent. Matters of physical abuse should generally be reported to the local police.