How to Report Elder Abuse in New Mexico
Elder abuse is a growing problem in the U.S., as Baby Boomers continue to age. Approximately one in ten Americans ages 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse, as reported by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Citizens in New Mexico have a duty to report elder abuse, as stated in the Adult Protective Services Act (27-7-30). If you suspect an older adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, call Adult Protective Services at (505) 476-4913, or toll-free at (866) 654-3219.
The law states that “Any person, including financial institutions, having reasonable cause to believe that an incapacitated adult is being abused, neglected or exploited shall immediately report that information to the department.” The report can be made either orally or in writing. It must include the name, age, and address of the elder who you suspect is being abused, and the name and address of any person responsible for the older adult’s care. It should also include the nature and extent of the elder’s condition, the basis of your knowledge, and other relevant information.
Under New Mexico law, any person failing to report, or obstructing or impeding an investigation, is guilty of a misdemeanor. The Aging & Long-Term Services Department may access a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation. This penalty may be accessed and collected by the department after notice and opportunity for a hearing in front of a hearing officer, who has the power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas. If it is found that a violation has occurred, the department will refer the matter to the agency employing the person for disciplinary action.
Adult Protective Services has five regional offices, serving all 33 New Mexico counties. They are:
- Northeast (serving Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, San Miguel, and Guadalupe counties): (505) 425-9335
- Northwest (serving San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Valencia, and Socorro counties, plus part of Sandoval County): (505) 287-1312
- Albuquerque metro area (serving Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Torrance counties): (505) 841-4500
- Southeast (serving Lincoln, De Baca, Quay, Curry, Roosevelt, Chaves, Eddy, and Lea counties): (575) 624-6071 ext. 1130
- Southwest (serving Catron, Grant, Hidalgo, Sierra, Luna, Dona Ana, and Otero counties: (575) 373-5570
Two main factors contributing to elder abuse are:
- Social isolation: Loneliness has real implications for physical and mental health in seniors. Recent research has shown that being socially isolated or feeling lonely has more of an impact on mortality than physical risk factors, such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, as stated by NCOA.
- Mental impairment: Older people with Alzheimer’s or dementia are more vulnerable to abuse. NCOA reports that nearly half of elder people with dementia have experienced abuse or neglect. Interpersonal violence also occurs at a disproportionately higher rate among adults with mental impairment and other disabilities.
Estimates of financial abuse and fraud committed against older Americans range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion per year, although likely underreported, according to NCOA. Elders who have suffered abuse have a 300% higher risk of death than those who have not. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect are self-reported at lower rates than financial exploitation.
If you observe that an older adult is in immediate, life-threating danger, call 911 right away. If you suspect that a senior is being mistreated or neglected, contact the local Adult Protective Services office or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman toll-free at (866) 451-2901, or call the police. The U.S. Administration on Aging provides access to the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116. This federal resource provides information on elder rights, housing, support services, health, transportation, and other matters concerning the elderly.
If you suspect your elderly loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C. at (903) 212-2822 as soon as possible. We can tell you if you have a case against the negligent caregiver or facility and what damages you and your loved one may be entitled to claim.
Don't wait to get help. Contact our Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse lawyer to schedule a free consultation.
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