Elder Abuse Awareness

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, 2020

Logo for World Elder Abuse Awareness day

When a community cares, we can build strong supports for older adults in Howard County.

The Howard County Office on Aging and Independence is partnering with local, state and federal agencies to spread awareness and prevention strategies on elder abuse and neglect, and financial exploitation. To learn how you can recognize and report elder abuse, follow us on Facebook or view the Elder Abuse Awareness Guide and other information, below. 


Phone a Senior Program flier

Phone a Senior Program

Help combat social isolation in our community - volunteer for the new Phone a Senior program to make weekly calls of support to older adults. For more information, to volunteer or to sign up to receive calls, contact Maryland Access Point of Howard County at 410-313-1234 (voice/relay) or email map@howardcountymd.gov.  


NEW! Contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline for Help

If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud, help is available from the National Elder Fraud Hotline, a new service created by the U.S. Department of Justice. Contact them at 1-833–FRAUD–11 or 1-833–372–8311 every day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (English/Español/other languages available). Visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/ for more information.


Elder Abuse Awareness Guide

A collaborative effort of the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence and its community partners, the Elder Abuse Awareness Guide was designed to help individuals, first responders and other professionals throughout the community to recognize the signs, symptoms and types of elder abuse, as well as develop strategies to reduce the incidence of abuse and spread awareness. 

Cover of the Elder Abuse Awareness Guide  

Click here or on the image to open the guide. To request a hard copy, call Maryland Access Point at 410-313-1234 (voice/relay). 


Take a Stand Against Elder Abuse 

Elder abuse affects hundreds of thousands of people each year, yet just one in fourteen cases is brought to the attention of authorities. Individuals suffering from cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's Disease are particularly vulnerable. Elder victims tend to be the most isolated of all victims of family violence; they are likely to have fewer social connections to the community that would normally be an avenue of help.  

Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Become informed - learn the types of abuse and how to recognize the different signs of abuse
  • Report suspected abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities by contacting the Howard County Long Term Care Ombudsman Program at 410-313-6423 (voice/relay)
  • Report suspected abuse in the community by contacting the Howard County Department of Social Services: Adult Protective Services at 410-872-8700 (voice/relay)
  • Keep in contact with older relatives, friends and neighbors
  • Volunteer with a program that provides assistance and support services to older adults
  • Take a stand! The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) urges individuals, families, community groups, organizations, and businesses to “Take A Stand” by participating in elder abuse awareness and prevention efforts.  
  • Learn how to spot the warning signs of abuse or mistreatment; the NCEA's reference guide, the Red Flags of Abuse can help (also available in Korean).  Also, the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, has compiled a list of 10 Warning Signs an Older Loved One May Need Assistance to help older adults, family members, and caregivers recognize when extra help is needed in the home.  

Types of Elder Abuse  

  • Physical Abuse—Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on an elder person or vulnerable adult, or depriving them of a basic need. 
  • Emotional Abuse—Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person or vulnerable adult through verbal or nonverbal acts. 
  • Sexual Abuse—Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, coercing an elder person or vulnerable adult to witness sexual behaviors. 
  • Exploitation—Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of an elder person or vulnerable adult. 
  • Neglect—Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for an elder person or vulnerable adult. 
  • Abandonment—The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

Preventing Scams & Fraud 
Older adults in Howard County, as well as the rest of the United States, are often targets of scams and fraud, which are forms of financial abuse. The Howard County Office of Consumer Protection educates the public on how to avoid being a victim of a scam and prevent fraud, and also handles complaints against businesses. To find out more about these services, call 410-313-6420 (voice/relay) or email consumer@howardcountymd.gov


What should you do if you suspect financial exploitation?

The Maryland Department of Aging's attorney general has created the following guidelines as part of its Project SAFE.


Protect Week Resources for Financial Exploitation  (www.protectweek.org)

During Protect Week, June 15-21, 2020, Marylanders will have an opportunity to learn about the many forms of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults via the resources of more than a dozen local and national partners including the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Maryland Office of the Comptroller, Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Maryland Department of Aging, CCCSMD, AARP Maryland and AARP Fraud Watch Network, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, EverSafe. For more information and resources, visit www.protectweek.org and the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition.


Avoiding Medicare Fraud
Unfortunately, Medicare Fraud offers new opportunities for con artists to steal money and personal information from unwary health care shoppers.  Consumers need to be alert to offers of "help" that will instead damage their pocketbooks. Keep the following tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim of Medicare fraud.

  • There are no "official" Medicare sales representatives. Private insurance companies sell Medigap and Medicare Advantage coverage plans. Insurance sellers cannot claim to be Medicare representatives, nor can they say they are endorsed by Medicare.
  • Know who you are dealing with. If you decide to talk with an insurance agent, make sure the agent is licensed. Get the name and address of the agent and the insurance company and know how to contact them if you need help. Verify an agent's status by calling the Maryland Insurance Administration at 1-800-492-6116.
  • Cold calling is prohibited. Private insurance agents cannot go door-to-door or call you at home, unless you've given them prior permission to do so. If you haven't requested the call, hang up. If you haven't requested a visit, don't invite them in.
  • Resist pressure selling. If you decide to talk with an insurance agent, don't feel pressured to