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State, local officials join forces to raise awareness about elder abuse

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15

APS Bureau Chief Michael Hagenlock said elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. It takes many forms, including: neglect or isolation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats.) APS is an investigation unit designed to protect the vulnerable adults, and provide protective services through support by local, county and state programs.

He said many of the cases, the person abusing, neglecting or exploiting the elderly are a person in a trust relationship to the older person such as spouse, child, or friend.

In Montana, APS covers all 56 counties. In state fiscal year 2017, APS received over 7,000 calls for services for our elderly and disabled population. This is the highest number of calls APS has received over the past six years.

The calls included 811 for some level of abuse, 2,380 for neglect and 1,098 for financial exploitation.

In addition, APS has assisted 2,375 citizens with information and referrals to services in their local communities and provided protective services to 389 elderlies.  In addition, APS has taken on the role of guardianship for 155 individuals who did not have any family support or protection.

He said in addition to investigations, APS investigators work with community partners to help those being abused with short-term assistance such as: a place to live, or stay, or home repairs, food, transportation or help with utilities, managing money or legal help, or medical care, home healthcare or mental health services.

The Montana Department of Justice works to protect elderly Montanans through its Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). MFCU investigates elder exploitation, elder abuse and fraud by providers within the Medicaid system.

"Abuse of older Americans, whether it be physical or financial, is unconscionable. That's why AARP is fighting across the nation and here in Montana to crack down on abuse and financial exploitation and strengthen protections for victims so all can live with dignity and independence as they age,” said AARP Montana State Director, Tim Summers.

 

To report Medicaid fraud or elder abuse, call the Medicaid fraud hotline at 800-376-1115.

To contact APS, go to 1-844-277-9300 to make a report or to find a local APS office.

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