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Elder Abuse

You've read the newspaper stories or seen the reports on TV: an elderly person is physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or financially exploited by a family member, or a patient in a long-term care facility is victimized by a staff member. When something like this happens, we all ask ourselves how, and we wonder why someone can't intervene before these crimes are committed. The truth is, someone could (and should) have helped long before any elder was victimized.


Currently in Tennessee, only 1 in 23 cases of elder abuse is reported. Many times it's because the victim lives with someone who controls the elder's access to the outside world, finances, meals, medication, and everything else. Bruises go unnoticed, and the behavioral signs aren't witnessed, so the abuse continues.


More than two-thirds of elder abuse perpetrators are family members.


To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older person call 1.888.APS.TENN or 1.888.277.8366. You may also want to read the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Crimes Against the Elderly Report for the 2009-2011 reporting period.


Tennessee Adult Protective Services Online Reporting


Tennessee Adult Protective Services now offers an online service for reporting "suspicions of abuse/neglect/exploitation of adults when the suspected abuse/neglect/exploitation took place in Tennessee. Your report will be reviewed and processed by Adult Protective Services personnel at the Tennessee Department of Human Services."


This option is not for reporting emergencies! APS points out on its page that "It may take up to 1 business day to process reports of abuse and neglect made through the web-based internet reporting process. If you believe the allegation of abuse/neglect/fatality you are reporting requires action in less than 24 hours, please contact the Adult Protective Services intake hotline at 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366)," or dial 911 if the situation is life-threatening.



Stories of Abuse


Sweethearts Swindling the Elderly Online


Additional resources


Tennessee Vulnerable Adult Coalition (TVAC)

Stopping Abuse of the Elderly and Persons Who Have Disabilities

Signs of Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation

How to Report Elder Abuse

UN Report on Elder Abuse


How to determine if a prospective employee has committed abuse


Department of Health Abuse Registry

The Tennessee Department of Health is required by state law and federal regulations to maintain a registry of persons who have abused, neglected, or misappropriated personal property. Allegations of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of personal property against individuals are investigated thoroughly. Substantiated complaints are referred to the Office of General Counsel for review and processing.


Contact information for the registry:


Tennessee Department of Health
Elderly or Vulnerable Abuse Registry
227 French Landing, Suite 501
Heritage Place MetroCenter
Nashville, TN 37243

Last updated 01/13/15.