Everyone assumes that when a person ages, they will eventually lose the ability to care for themselves. While some people may encounter this, not everyone does. Sometimes, people may even encounter loss of ability to do personal care while young (due to disabilities, injuries, etc.).
Recently a man in CT named Richard Granata was accused of raping a 90 year-old woman while he cared for her during that time. He has not entered a plea as of yet, but has been released on bail (http://www.wfsb.com/news/23932737/detail.html). Unfortunately, this is not an unusual situation in the state of Connecticut and it is also assumed by agencies that there are many reports that are never made.
It is most common that the elder person is abused or neglected by someone who provides the most care for the person. In order to ensure the safety of all elders, people must report these incidences to the appropriate authorities. Police departments are a great way to do this. They can ensure the immediate safety of any elder and can also facilitate the reports needing to be made to the Protective Services for the Elderly (a service of the Department of Social Services) department closest to the individual.
Sometimes, people fear reporting on family members and want to protect family members who may be abusing or neglecting an elderly family member or an elder they care for. These reports must be made. Most people do not hesitate reporting for a child because the child quite often is afraid to do so themselves or may not know that what is happening to them is not okay. With elderly adults the assumption may be that they know what is happening is wrong, so they can report it themselves.
It is hard to put into words that someone is hurting you and you are trying to be an autonomous individual, but need this kind of help. For someone like the woman who was abused by Granata, it may be hard to admit that you need help and are not able to protect yourself as much as you were in the past. As a part of the community, every citizen has a responsibility to keep every other citizen safe. For children, we make reports all the time. For elders, we must also make these reports to ensure that we do not forget anyone who needs help staying safe. This can be done by calling Protective Services for the Elderly at 1-888-385-4225 (calls will route to the closest office to where the call is being made from).
For further information on elder abuse: http://www.ct.gov/dss/cwp/view.asp?A=2353&Q=305232 – CT Department of Social Services
http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ – National Center on Elder Abuse