Martinez urges citizens to report elder abuse

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Gov. Susana Martinez has proclaimed June as Adult Abuse Awareness Month, reminding New Mexicans of the responsibility to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of adult and elderly members of our communities who are unable to protect themselves.

Last year, New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services' Adult Protective Services Division received 10,500 reports and investigated more than 6,000 cases of suspected adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Sixty-five percent of victims were over the age of 60, and more than 29 percent were 80 or older.

"I urge every member of the community to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation to adult protective services at the toll free adult protective services hotline, 1-866-654-3219," says Martinez.

"As New Mexico's population ages, the incidence of abuse, neglect, and exploitation is expected to rise," says Secretary Retta Ward. "Increased longevity and continuing issues such as inadequate housing, lack of long term care service options, transportation, hunger, poor nutrition, and poverty will exacerbate the problems of isolation and neglect. That's why it's so important for New Mexicans to partner with us and help the most vulnerable among us."

Older victims are four times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home, and have a risk of dying three times that of non-abused seniors. Victims of financial exploitation, according to two national studies, have a mortality rate that is three times higher than for non-victims.

Adult Protective Services investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of adults with incapacities who are age 18 or older. State law requires anyone who suspects abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an incapacitated adult to report it to APS. This "Duty to Report" includes financial institutions.

Self-neglect, the most frequently reported and substantiated problem, accounted for 40 percent of referrals in 2011, followed by caregiver neglect at 23 percent, abuse at 20 percent, and exploitation at 17 percent. More than half — 55 percent — of victims were women; 45 percent were men.

APS substantiated 23 percent of investigations conducted in 2011. Forty two percent of perpetrators were family members. Adult abuse may also be perpetrated by caregivers, trusted advisors, or strangers.

To report adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation in New Mexico, call the toll-free APS Central Intake line at 1-866-654-3219.