Elder Abuse in Kentucky

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The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Adult Protective Services Division has the legal responsibility for investigating complaints of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults. Abuse and neglect mean causing physical pain or injury, mental injury or the withholding of services that are necessary to maintain a person's health and welfare. Exploitation is the improper use of the adult's money. Family members or strangers may cause abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Although physical abuse is the most obvious example that can be given, there are many other forms of abuse and neglect that are subtler. Scaring you with threats of violence in return for money, property, or other items of value is a good example. Misuse of an elderly person's money or savings is another example. See the publication Attention Seniors: Protect Your Money (PDF) from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Another occurrence is exploitation through withholding necessary health care, food, housing or clothing that someone has a duty to provide. Keeping an elderly person somewhere against their will might be another form of exploitation.

Any person having reason to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited must report this to the local Adult Protective Services office. Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state. A representative of that agency is then required to work with local law enforcement agencies to investigate the report.

If an emergency exists in which a serious risk of death or immediate and serious physical injury, one may ask the district court to order emergency protective services. The court may order such services only if it finds that an emergency exists, that the adult is in need of the protective services, and that the adult refuses or is unable to give consent to those services. Before deciding, the court must conduct a hearing and must appoint an attorney to represent the adult. Relief is limited to services necessary to remove the adult from the endangering situation.

Also, the Kentucky Domestic Violence and Abuse Statute offers emergency protection to all victims of abuse or violence. A petition for help can be brought in district court by the person threatened or by a family member. There is no need to have an attorney to file the petition, and the filing is free of charge. You can get the petition at the local circuit clerk's office. The district court can issue a short-term emergency protective order to prevent violence or damage to your property. The court can also make someone leave your residence. A wide range of help is available in a permanent order after a full hearing is held.

If you are the victim of any type of abuse described above, or you know someone who is being victimized or taken advantage of, you should report this to your local Department for Social Services office. To determine the information for your specific county, see: https://apps.chfs.ky.gov/Office_Phone/index.aspx

The Department maintains a toll-free hotline on which suspected abuse may be reported. That number is 1-800-752-6200. If you report suspected abuse, your name will be kept confidential. You may also report it to your local county attorney, state police office, or other local law enforcement agency, which can investigate and assist in instances of abuse.

Please see the following related links to helpful information concerning elder abuse: http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/relatedLinks.htm

Reviewed August 2009