New Mexico’s elder abuse problems can take many forms, usually grouped into physical abuse, psychological (or verbal) abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.
to help stop abuse, neglect or exploitation in nursing homes and other care facilities, our state has a landmark law called the “Resident Abuse and Neglect Act.” One key strategy to reach its goals is its reporting requirements.
A common problem requiring a constant watch
The problem is disturbingly common. At least one in ten older people (65 and up) experience some kind of abuse in the United States.
With about 45 million people that age in the country, the problem affects about 4.5 million people. Every year, year after year, new cases arise at a rate of about 450,000.
Nobody does not have to report
New Mexico requires anyone who suspects abuse to report their suspicions to the authorities.
Most states have requirements like this only for certain people on the front lines of care or who interact with elderly people regularly.
New Mexico law also singles out several such positions, but the law makes it clear that the “duty to report” belongs to all residents of the state.
“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 Adult Protective Services.”
You can be protected after you report
Remember that you do not have to be right about what you think is going on. The state’s law is there to prevent abusers from keeping their crimes secret. People trying to do the right thing for the elderly person will not have any trouble with the law.
New Mexico law is clear. Nobody can punish you in criminal court or by lawsuits for reporting when they abuse, neglect, or exploitation. They also cannot punish you for helping investigators if you sincerely think abuse might be happening.
If the Adult Protective Services Department decides that you have good reasons to suspect the abuse, the department will investigate to see what steps to take to protect the elderly person.
Finally, remember that you cannot be punished (retaliated against) by your employer or anyone else for reporting elder abuse in New Mexico.