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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2018 > New Ohio Law Expands the Definition of Elder Abuse and Who Must Report It

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New Ohio Law Expands the Definition of Elder Abuse and Who Must Report It


To protect older adults, a new Ohio law expands the definition of elder abuse and the groups of individuals — including pharmacists, first responders, and bankers — required to report suspicions of it. 

Elder abuse generally refers to the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult over the age of 60. Some of the new changes to Ohio law include an expanded definition of exploitation, training requirements related to elder abuse, putting the state’s Elder Abuse Commission into law, and expanding the number of individuals required to report suspicions of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

In Ohio, elder abuse can include: physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse; neglect, including abandonment; or financial exploitation. While “financial exploitation” previously included only exploitation by caregivers, changes under House Bill 49 expanded the definition to cover the improper acts of any person who uses an older adult’s resources for their own personal benefit, profit, or gain by, among other things, deception, threat, or intimidation. 

Under the previous law, some professions – including attorneys, doctors, dentists, peace officers, coroners, clergy, social workers, and hospital and nursing home employees – were already required to report elder abuse. However, the new law creates new mandatory reporters of elder abuse, some of which include:

  • Pharmacists 
  • Employees of outpatient health facilities 
  • Firefighters 
  • Employees of the health department 
  • Ambulance drivers 
  • First responders 
  • Building inspectors 
  • Certified public accountants 
  • Bank, savings and loan, and credit union employees 
  • Real estate brokers or agents 
  • Notary publics 
  • Investment advisors 
  • Accredited financial planners 

Additional information about who is required to report elder abuse is available through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Warning signs of elder abuse may include:

  • Changes in an older adult’s physical appearance, such as weight loss or unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Changes in an older adult’s personality or mood
  • Changes in an older adult’s finances or money management
  • A dominating, threatening caregiver or new “best friend” 
  • Exclusion from other family members or friends
  • Changes in an older adult’s home environment

In understanding financial exploitation, it also can be helpful to understand common red flags of a scam, such as:

  • Requests for wire-transfers, prepaid money cards, or gift cards
  • Requests for personal information
  • Pressure to act immediately
  • Requests to keep the interaction secret
  • Guarantees to make money
  • Requests for a large down payment
  • No contract or nothing written into the contract
  • Sending money out of the country

Reporting Elder Abuse

Any mandatory reporter who has reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited (or is in a condition that is the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation) must immediately report the suspected situation to the county department of job and family services or the local designated adult protective services agency. Failure of mandatory reporters to report alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation can result in a fine or misdemeanor criminal charges. 

Reports of elder abuse can be made to local adult protective services or by calling 1-855-OHIO-APS (1-855-644-6277) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.