FRANKFORT – Since taking the state’s Elder Abuse Tip Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Attorney General’s Medicaid and Abuse Office has seen an increase in calls from Kentuckians needing to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of a patient or resident in a state care facility.
Nearly a year ago, Attorney General Andy Beshear collaborated with his staff to answer the toll-free tip line around the clock as part of his ongoing efforts to protect Kentucky’s vulnerable adults and seniors.
Previously, the tip line – 877-ABUSE TIP or 877-228-7384 – recorded messages from callers at night or on weekends and were retrieved by staff the next working day.
With the increase in awareness on the availability to reach a member of Beshear’s staff, the tip line received 57 calls, a nearly 55 percent increase over the previous year.
“Protecting our parents and grandparents is our duty,” Beshear said. “By highlighting to families, the media and advocates that we expanded our services with the tip line, we have seen an increase in calls from worried and concerned family members wanting to protect their loved ones,” Beshear said. “The around the clock monitoring has meant a greater commitment by the members of the AG’s office, but our employees gladly embraced the opportunity to better serve and protect Kentucky families.”
Kentucky law requires that any person who suspects that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation report it to authorities.
The Medicaid Fraud and Abuse staff reviews calls to the tip line, and where appropriate, takes action along with Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection, his Department of Criminal Investigations or the executive branch’s Department of Community Based Services.
Beshear said Kentuckians visiting their loved ones in a facility should report any of the following conditions or warning signs of abuse:
• Frequent unexplained injuries or complaints of pain without obvious injury
• Burns or bruises suggesting the use of instruments, cigarettes, etc.
• Passive, withdrawn and emotionless behavior
• Lack of reaction to pain
• Injuries that appear after the person has not been seen for several days
• Patient complains of physical abuse
• Injury to the genital area
• Difficulty in sitting or walking
• Fear of being alone with caretakers
• Patient reports a sexual assault
• Obvious malnutrition
• Lack of personal cleanliness
• Habitually dressed in torn or dirty clothes
• Obvious fatigue and listlessness
• Begs for food or water
• In need of medical or dental care
• Left unattended for long periods
• Bed sores
• Financial abuse
• Mismanagement of personal funds
• Lost, stolen or destroyed property
Beshear and the Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC) recently announced that state prosecutors are receiving their required elder abuse training through a series of webinars. PAC is offering the free training for prosecutors through its Intranet site to all county and commonwealth’s attorneys. The more than four-hour online training focuses on the investigation and prosecution of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly.
With the online format, the four-part webinar is available to prosecutors at any time and is an excellent resource for prosecutors as they build and prepare to try elder abuse cases, Beshear said.