Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of the Elderly and Disabled
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STOP Adult Abuse: It's a Crime. To learn more about this crime in Missouri, see our department’s latest report. NEW
- What is Abuse?
- Who can Report Abuse?
- What Information Do I Have to Report?
- What Happens After I Make a Report?
- What about my rights?
- Adult Protective Services
- Related Links
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) investigates abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable individuals 60 and older and people with disabilities between 18 and 59. These individuals may live in the community or in long-term care facilities. Either way, they are unable to protect their own interests or adequately perform or obtain services necessary to meet their essential human needs (192.2400, RSMo).
Missouri’s Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline responds to reports of abuse, bullying, neglect, and financial exploitation. If you suspect someone is being abused, bullied, neglected or exploited, call the hotline at 800-392-0210. The hotline operates 365 days per year from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Hearing-impaired persons may utilize Relay Missouri by calling 1-800-735-2466. Due to the possible need for mandated reporters to report a concern to the Central Registry Unit (CRU) during the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. (when the hotline is not in operation), a Mandated Reporter Form is available for use.
What is Abuse?
Abuse happens to people of all ethnicities and income levels and can be physical, sexual or emotional in nature. For information on abuse statistics in Missouri, see Stop Adult Abuse: It’s a Crime.
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- Abuse – the infliction of physical, sexual, or emotional injury or harm including financial exploitation by any person, firm, or corporation (192.2400, RSMo).
- Neglect – the failure to provide services to an eligible adult by any person, firm or corporation with a legal or contractual duty to do so, when such failure presents either an imminent danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the client or a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm would result (192.2400, RSMo).
- Financial Exploitation – A person commits the crime of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person if such person knowingly and by deception, intimidation, or force obtains control over the elderly or disabled person's property with the intent to permanently deprive the elderly or disabled person of the use, benefit or possession of his or her property thereby benefiting such person or detrimentally affecting the elderly or disabled person (570.145, RSMo).
- Bullying – intimidation or harassment that causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical safety or property and may consist of physical actions including gestures; cyberbullying; oral, electronic, or written communication; and any threat of retaliation for reporting of such acts. (192.2400,RSMo)
Who can Report Abuse?
Anyone who suspects someone is being abused, neglected, or exploited can make a report. Certain professionals, however, are mandated by law to report. Click here to find a complete list of mandated reporting laws and mandated reporters.
What Information Do I Have to Report?
See Stop Adult Abuse: It's a Crime, page 18, for information on what to report.
What Happens After I Make a Report?
Reports of Individuals Residing in the Community
If the alleged victim lives in his or her own home or community, an investigator will help the alleged victim determine the services or interventions needed to stop or alleviate the abuse. The services may include:
- community supportive services, such as personal care, respite, or chore services;
- home-delivered nutrition services;
- financial or legal assistance and protections, such as representative payee, direct deposit, trusts, protective services, civil suit or criminal charges;
- counseling for the victim;
- referral to other community resources, and;
- when needed, guardianship proceedings or nursing home placement.
Long-Term Care Facility Complaints
If the alleged victim lives in a long-term care facility, the department’s Division of Regulation and Licensure staff conducts an investigation. Complaint investigations are handled in accordance with state statute. Long-term care reports or complaints are generally initiated within 24 hours. For more information, contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about my rights?
A competent older person may refuse all services and interventions. No decisions are made about a competent adult without her or her involvement and consent.
A facility resident has the right to:
- be free from mental and physical abuse;
- be informed of their medical condition;
- select their own physician;
- participate in planning their care;
- refuse treatment;
- voice grievances;
- be treated with respect and dignity; and
- have treatments provided in privacy.
For adults participating in the Protective Services Program, consideration is given to the following inherent rights:
- participate in care planning
- receive assistance
- refuse services
- refuse medical treatment
All programs stress the competent adult’s right to make decisions regarding care.
Adult Protective Services
For community-dwelling adults and persons with disabilities, the Department of Health and Senior Services provides Adult Protective Services (APS). Protective services are provided on behalf of eligible adults who are unable to:
- manage their own affairs;
- carry out the activities of daily living; or,
- protect themselves from abuse, neglect, or exploitation which may result in harm or a hazard to themselves or others.
The purpose of Adult Protective Services is to:
- promote independence;
- maximize client choice and provide for meaningful client input for preferences;
- keep the adult at home by providing quality alternatives to institutional care; and,
- empower the older adult to attain or maintain optimal self-determination.