Elder Abuse Reporting & Prevention

Report Elder Abuse!

Who Reports?

YOU DO! If you suspect that someone you know is at risk or is the victim of elder abuse, you must report the suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services at your local Department of Social or Human Services.

If you are concerned that an older or disabled adult is in immediate danger, call 911 right away.

Why Report?

Because it’s the law! North Carolina law requires reporting when anyone suspects that an older adult or an adult with a disability is being abused, neglected, or exploited. The reporter’s name is always kept confidential and reporters are protected from civil and criminal liability for good faith reports.

What Information Will I Need?

Provide as much information as you have, but do not let lack of information stop you from making a report.

    • Name, address, age or date of birth of the individual
    • Caregiver’s name (if any)
    • Explanation of the situation 
    • Mental or physical condition of the individual 
    • Names of others who may have information

Where to Report?

Your county Department of Social Services-Adult Protective Services. 

Departments of Social Services – Adult Protective Services Contacts (High Country Counties):

    • Alleghany County (336) 372-2411
    • Ashe County (336) 846-5719
    • Avery County (828) 733-8230
    • Mitchell County (828) 688-2175
    • Watauga County (828) 265-8100
    • Wilkes County (336) 651-7400
    • Yancey County (828) 682-6148

For contact information for the Adult Protective Services Department in your county, visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services website and select the county where the person needing assistance lives.

For suspected abuse in Nursing Homes, contact the Division of Health Service Regulation at 1-800-624-3004.

For suspected abuse in Adult Care Homes, contact the local Department of Social Services in the county where the affected person lives.

What is Elder Abuse?

Abuse occurs when the caretaker of an adult with a didability causes physical or mental pain, unreasonable confinement, or willful deprivation.

Signs of Abuse:

    • Unusual or unexplained bruises, welts, fractures or burns
    • Bedsores, unexplained weight loss, abnormally dry skin or lips
    • Inadequate shelter or medical care
    • Inappropriate clothing for weather or conditions
    • Any willful confinement in a dangerous environment.

What is Exploitation?

Exploitation occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses a disabled adult’s resources.

Signs of Exploitation:

    • Unexplained withdrawal of money from bank accounts
    • Use of deceit, treachery, or coercion to obtain money or assets
    • Unusual interest by anyone in the disabled adult’s assets
    • Difference between assets and lifestyle
    • Unusually large payments for services
    • Mismanagement of funds
    • Failure to pay for essential services

What is Self-Neglect?

Self-Neglect occurs when a disabled adult lives alone or has no caretaker and is not able to care for him or herself.

Signs of Self Neglect:

    • Aimless wandering at night
    • Forgetfulness – such as forgetting to turn the stove on or off
    • Inability to cook, eat, bathe, toilet, dress or care for oneself
    • Weight loss or dehydration
    • Causing small fires
    • Inappropriate use of medications
    • Living in an unsafe environment

What is Caregiver Neglect?

Caretaker Neglect occurs when a disabled adult’s caretaker fails to provide the necessary services to avoid physical harm and maintain mental and physical health.

Signs of Caregiver Neglect:

    • Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or attention to personal and incidental needs
    • Failure to manage resources to meet disabled adult’s needs
    • Failure to provide supervision and a safe living environment

What Makes Some Older Adults Vulnerable to Abuse?

    • They rely on the abusive party for care.
    • They may feel financially responsible for the abusive party. 
    • Greater cultural tolerance for family violence among their generation: “You lie in the bed you made.” 
    • They have multiple fears such as alienation of family and loved ones, isolation, lack of transportation, fear of dying, and fear of dying alone.

How Can Older Adults Help Prevent Scams and Exploitation?

    • Say no to high-pressure sales pitches. If the offer is only good today, walk away.
    • Always read contracts carefully before you sign them, and make sure all written documents match what you’ve been promised. Never sign a document that you don’t understand or that has blanks to be filled in later.
    • Be cautious when responding to telemarketers, door-to-door sellers, and email or text pitches. Instead of responding to unsolicited offers, decide when and where you want to go shopping.
    • You never have to make a purchase or pay taxes, fees or other expenses in advance to win a prize. Anyone who demands an upfront fee for a prize is trying to scam you.
    • Never give out your Social Security Number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
    • Be skeptical of upfront fees. North Carolina law makes it illegal to collect advance fees for some types of work, such as foreclosure assistance and debt settlement help. If an advance payment is required for other kinds of transactions, use a credit card when possible. This gives you some protection if your order doesn’t arrive or the work isn’t completed.
    • Do business with companies you know or that come recommended by those you trust. Check out companies with the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or your local Better Business Bureau before making major purchases.
    • Join the Do Not Call registry to cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls. To sign up, call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register or visit www.donotcall.gov. Once you’re on the list, report Do No Call violators to the Attorney General’s Office.
    • Check your credit report regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each nationwide credit bureau. To access your free credit reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
    • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

To Report Scams, Fraud, and Exploitation, visit: www.ncdoj.gov/protecting-consumers

For additional information, check out Addressing Adult and Elder Abuse in the High Country:

    • Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention in the High Country (p.1-37)
    • Info about Adult Protective Services (p.38-47)
    • How Older Adults Can Prepare Themselves to Combat Scams and Exploitation (p.48-73)