Key Issues

Mandatory Reporting

Most states have some type of statutory requirement to report elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Reporting requirements are complex and vary greatly from state to state. They typically are included in the state's adult protective services (APS) laws, but they also may be imbedded in other statutes and regulations. Examples of major types of variables in state elder abuse reporting provisions include:

  • Categories of persons who must and who may report elder abuse (e.g., any person, specified professionals or employees of specified agencies)
  • Exceptions based on privileged communications for specified professionals
  • Categories of suspected victims (e.g., all persons over a specified age; only older persons with disabilities; only persons determined to be incapacitated)
  • Agency or department to which reports should be made (e.g., APS agency, long term care ombudsman, law enforcement, or district attorney)
  • Cross-agency reporting requirements (e.g., law enforcement to APS, APS to district attorney)
  • Time limits for reporting elder abuse
  • Methods of reporting (oral, in writing or both)
  • Content of the report
  • Immunity for good faith reporting of elder abuse
  • Sanctions for failure to report and for making a false report

The American Bar Association has developed detailed charts on state elder abuse reporting requirements in APS statutes. The charts are current as of December 31, 2006. An extensive explanation of the charts provides guidance and caveats related to the use of the charts.

Judges and court employees should be knowledgeable about their state's reporting requirements. If court personnel are mandated reporters, the court should institute protocols for timely reporting to the proper agencies. Whether or not the court has statutory reporting obligations, the court should establish and nurture a good working relationship with the local adult protective services agency to promote legal and proper responses to suspected elder abuse.

Resources

American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging: