Tips for Professionals Who Work with Older Adults

Reporting Elder Abuse

If you are a professional who suspects you have witnessed emotional abuse or neglect of an older adult, you need to understand state requirements on reporting such abuse. In Pennsylvania there are 2 types of reporting, voluntary and mandatory.

Voluntary Reporting

Any person who believes that an older adult is being abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned may file a report 24 hours a day with any Area Agency on Aging or call the statewide elder abuse hotline at 800-490-8505.

Abuse reports can be made on behalf of an older adult whether the person lives in the community or in a care facility such as a nursing home, personal care home, hospital, etc.

  • Reporters have legal protection from retaliation, discrimination and civil or criminal prosecution.
  • Reporters may remain anonymous.

Mandatory Reporting

Employees and administrators of nursing homes, personal care homes, domiciliary care homes, adult day care centers and home health care are mandated by Act 13 of 1997 to immediately report any suspected abuse of a recipient of care to the Area Agency on Aging. If the abuse involves serious injury, sexual abuse or suspicious death, reporters must also call police and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at 717-783-6207. In addition, the reporter may also call the Pennsylvania Department of Health Nursing Home Complaint Line at 800-254-5164.

Failure to report as required by Act 13-1997 can result in administrative or criminal penalties.

Understanding the Victim's Rights When Abuse Has Been Reported

  • Alleged abusers have the right to be notified after substantiation of a report and given an opportunity to challenge the findings of the investigation.
  • Victims can refuse to accept services.
  • Victims have the right to a guarantee that all information concerning their case will be maintained confidential.
  • Victims have the right to be told that someone has reported that they might be the victim of abuse and need protective services.
  • Victims have the right to legal counsel when the Area Agency on Aging attempts to obtain an emergency, involuntary intervention court order.