In December 2018, a new Ohio law expanded the definition of elder abuse and the professionals required to report suspicious activity. Elder abuse typically refers to the neglect, abuse or exploitation of a vulnerable adult over age 60. Under Ohio law, elder abuse may include physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation. House Bill 49 expanded the definition of exploitation and the different types of professionals lawfully required to report suspicions of elder abuse.
Elder abuse in Ohio
The 2018 house bill changed the law from only holding caregivers liable to anyone taking advantage of an elder’s resources for personal gain, profit, or benefit through threats, intimidation or deception. Before HB49, lawyers, physicians, dentists, medical employees, nursing home employees, social workers, peace officers, clergy and coroners must report suspicions of elder abuse. According to the Ohio Department of Aging, these reports can be made anonymously by calling 1-855-644-6277.
Professionals required to report elder abuse
The changes lawfully require employees in a wide variety of industries to now report suspicions of elder abuse. For example, under the new law, pharmacists, employees of the health department and workers at outpatient facilities are required to report suspicions of elder abuse. Building inspectors and real estate professionals are also required to register suspicions of elder abuse or nursing home negligence. Financial professionals like certified public accountants, bank employees and accredited financial planners are also required to report elder abuse or exploration.
Ambulance drivers, firefighters and first responders must, by law, report any suspicions of elder abuse. Some warning signs include sudden changes in the elder’s appearance or unexplainable injuries. Sudden changes in the elder’s mood, personality, environment or finances may also be indicators. Some of these elders may be suffering from being excluded or dealing with an overbearing caregiver.