Department of Aging

Elder Abuse

In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that leads to, or may lead to, harm of an older adult age 60 or over. 

In Ohio, younger adults with disabilities may qualify for the same services and protections. Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse, and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. In Ohio, self-neglect is also considered abuse.

What types of things are considered abuse?

The most common types of elder abuse reported in Ohio are neglect, self-neglect, exploitation, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.

The failure of an adult to provide the goods or services necessary for his or her own safety and/or well-being − such as avoiding physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness − or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services.

The unlawful or improper act of a caretaker using an adult or his/her resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain.

The intentional use of physical force that results in injury, pain, or impairment. It includes pushing, hitting, slapping, pinching, and other ways of physically harming a person. It can also mean placing an individual in incorrect positions, force feeding, restraining, or giving medication without the person’s knowledge.

Occurs when a person is threatened, humiliated, intimidated, or otherwise psychologically hurt. It includes the violation of an adult’s right to make decisions and the loss of his or her privacy.

Includes rape or other unwanted, nonconsensual sexual contact. It also can mean forced or coerced nudity, exhibitionism, and other non-touching sexual situations, regardless of the age of the perpetrator.

Who is at Risk?

Elder abuse can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, and other similar institutions. It affects older adults across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. Based on available information, women and “older” adults are more likely to be victimized. Dementia is a significant risk factor. Mental health and substance abuse issues – of both abusers and victims – are risk factors. Isolation can also contribute to risk.

What Should I do if I Suspect Abuse?

Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. Call or go online and PLEASE REPORT IT by calling 216.420.6700. The agency receiving the report will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more.

You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring. It is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions. Your report can be anonymous, and you are protected if you do report.

The Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) is the provider of Adult Protective Services (APS) in Cuyahoga County. APS is mandated to protect and assist adults 60 and over who may be victims of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and/or financial exploitation. Allegations of abuse of adults with disabilities ages 18 and over can also be investigated, provided the adult is willing to participate on a voluntary basis.  

All reports to DSAS are confidential.

What are Adult Protective Services?

Adult Protective Services are governed by state mandate per Ohio Revised Code (Section 5101.60 to 5101.71). Adult Protective Services help vulnerable adults age 60 and older (or adults with disabilities, age 18-59) who are in danger of harm and/or are unable to protect themselves and may have no one to assist them. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) provides oversight for the state’s Adult Protective Services programs. This County department receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults and evaluates the need for protective services.

What qualifies for an APS case?

  • Age 60 and over (or age 18-59 with a disability)
  • Must be impaired and/or disabled
  • Must have an allegation of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation
  • Must live in the community (not a licensed facility)
  • Screens and investigates adult abuse allegations
  • Works with individuals and families to reduce or alleviate abuse
  • Works with medical professionals to determine capacity, remedies for abuse, and protective services
  • Provides case planning, including referrals to community services
  • Works with the family and other support systems of the victim to implement a safety plan
  • Determines alternate plans if there is no support available
  • Follows up to ensure case plan is appropriate and individual is no longer at risk

If you suspect that an older adult in Cuyahoga County is the victim of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation, PLEASE REPORT IT by calling 216.420.6700. Some professionals are "Mandated Reporters" as determined by the State and must report abuse.