LINCOLN — As many as 1 in 10 older Americans experience elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services wants to bring awareness to this problem on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Saturday.

“Elder abuse is a major issue that often goes unreported and unaddressed,” said Dr. Matthew Van Patton, director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care. ”We all have a part to play in recognizing the signs of abuse and doing everything we can to prevent it.”

Many victims are afraid to speak out because the abuser is often a family member or a caregiver. According to a press release from DHHS, Adult Protective Services is dedicated to fixing situations like these that affect seniors.

“Our hard-working and resourceful Adult Protective Services team does a great job of identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable adults and helping to protect them from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said Matt Wallen, director of the Division of Children and Family Services. “Our team is there to help protect them, and engage professionals in various disciplines to find solutions and end elder abuse.”

Physical signs of elder abuse include:

» Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises.

» Dehydration or malnutrition, poor coloration, sunken eyes or cheeks.

» Soiled clothing or bed.

» Lack of necessities such as food, water or utilities.

Behavioral signs of elder abuse include:

» Fear, anxiety, agitation, anger.

» Contradictory statements or implausible stories.

» Hesitation to talk openly.

If you or someone you know suspects possible abuse or neglect of an elder, contact the National Elder Abuse hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. All calls will remain confidential. All calls are appreciated, even if abuse or neglect is not found. In Nebraska, call Adult Protective Services’ 24-hour toll-free hotline at 800-652-1999.

When calling the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline or law enforcement, please be prepared to provide as much detailed information as possible, including:

» Name and address.

» Current and previous concerns.

» Others who may have knowledge of the abuse or neglect.

The name of the person reporting will remain confidential. It will only be shared with law enforcement, the county attorney and the DHHS Licensure Unit, if appropriate, the release said.