Safe Seniors - Help Keep South Georgia Seniors Safe

The South Georgia Circuit handles dozens of cases of elder and dependent adult abuse each year. Many other incidents go unreported, leaving vulnerable adults in distressing, potentially life-changing, even dangerous, situations.

Abuse often escalates if there is no intervention. Victims will live in silent desperation, unwilling to seek assistance because they believe their cries for help will go unanswered and they fear retaliation from their abusers. Many remain silent to protect abusive family members from the legal consequences of their crimes, or they are too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to predators.

Report Abuse of Disabled Adults or Elder Persons

  • Submit a fax referral: 770-408-3001
  • Fax Referral Form [MS Word Version] [PDF Version]
  • Toll-Free: (1-888) 774-0152

Every day, older adults and adults with disabilities are suffering from abuse, neglect, and exploitation; often by people they trust the most. Abusers may be spouses, family members, personal acquaintances, professionals in positions of trust or opportunistic strangers who prey on the vulnerable.

The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Aging Services, Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates all reports of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation of disabled adults (18-64) or elder persons (65+) who do not reside in long-term care facilities (community living arrangements, personal care homes, intermediate care or skilled nursing facilities,) pursuant to the Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act, O.C.G.A. §§ 30-5-1, et seq.

The APS Program receives reports of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation through its Central Intake Unit.  Seasoned APS field staff handles calls through a statewide toll-free number to determine if the referrals meet the criteria for APS to investigate a case.  If the criteria are not met, referrals are made to community resources including those in the aging network.

Report Abuse, Neglect And Exploitation

In an emergency situation (when immediate help is needed), please call 911.

All reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation should be directed to Adult Protective Services Central Intake,
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Toll-Free: 1-888-774-0152
Submit a fax referral: 770-408-3001
Fax Referral Form [MS Word Version ] [PDF Version ]

 elder.jpg

Physical Abuse

  • Sexual abuse
  • Obvious lacerations, abrasions, fractures, welts, bruises, discoloration, or swelling
  • Pain or tenderness on mere touch
  • Burns caused by cigarettes, ropes or other bonds
  • Elder is withdrawn or demonstrates dramatic change in behavior

Mental Suffering due to threats, coercion, and intimidation, causing

  • Fear, Confusion or Withdrawal
  • Appears depressed and not himself/herself
  • Unusual mood changes and anger
  • Fear of being touched or approached by others
  • Seems withdrawn, unusually introverted or afraid

Financial Abuse, taking funds, property or assets by

  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Scams - By phone, mail, or internet.
  • False Lotteries

Neglect

  • Abandonment
  • Abduction
  • The elder feels isolated by a caretaker and is unable to speak freely or spend time with others
  • A caretaker fails to assist with personal hygiene or in providing clothing for the elder
  • A caregiver has a history of violence, alcohol or drug abuse
  • The elder has sudden weight loss or shows signs of dehydration or malnutrition
  • The elder does not have necessities, including eyeglasses, dentures, prostheses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, or other critical items

Self Neglect, inability of an elder or dependent adult to:

  • Provide personal care
  • Obtain food, water, medical care, medications
  • Maintain personal safety

Self-neglect is NOT a crime. However, seniors can receive assistance from Adult Protective Services.

Often victims of elder abuse can be abused in more ways than one. For example, an abuser may hit the elder (physical abuse) in order to convince him or her to turn over money to the abuser (financial abuse).

If any of these conditions apply, please call Adult Protective Services and immediately report it.

Prosecuting Elder Abuse

People can also report suspicion of elder and dependent adult abuse through law enforcement agencies, such as police and sheriff's departments. Some law enforcement entities have specialized units that focus on crimes involving older adults and dependent adults. Many of the reports of abuse and other crimes are cross reported among agencies.

The District Attorney is ready to help. We serve as lightening rod and a community resource when confronting this particularly appalling crime.

In addition to prosecuting crimes against seniors, the District Attorney addresses the special needs of elderly victims, who often require hands-on care and attention. Education is also part of our mission. We meet with seniors to teach them how to protect themselves. We train bank and credit union employees how to protect the financial assets of their elderly customers. We also train police, public safety and fire personnel to be aware of the special issues involving elders.

Importance of Reporting Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse

Anyone who has even the slightest suspicion that an elder or dependent adult is a potential victim of abuse is asked to report their concerns. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and report. The law does not require non-mandated reporters to make abuse reports. However, to encourage reporting, all reports are confidential and non-mandated reporters are not required to give their names. They are also protected from civil and criminal liability if they make the report of elder abuse in good faith.

Mandated Reporters

For persons living in the community, Georgia law requires mandatory reporting of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation by any of the professionals listed below. All other persons are encouraged to report suspected abuse to protective.

Mandated reporters include: medical personnel including physicians, interns, residents and others; osteopaths; dentists; psychologists; chiropractors; podiatrists; pharmacists; physical therapists; occupational therapists; licensed professionals and counselors; nursing personnel; social work personnel; day care personnel; coroner; medical examiner; employees of a public or private agency engaged in professional health-related services to elder persons or disabled adults; employees of a financial institution, and law enforcement personnel.

Failure for a mandated reporter to report abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of a disabled adult or elder person is punishable by a criminal misdemeanor.

Persons who report in good faith are immune from liability. The state law provides parameters for confidentiality of adult protective services records.

Reporting Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse in licensed nursing, residential, and board and care facilities

To report concerns in facilities, including suspected abuse, contact the Long-term Care Ombudsman office. Call Toll Free: (800) 878-6442