Free Practice Question: Reporting Elder Abuse and Neglect

By Robin Gluck on October 14, 2018

Elder abuse and neglect is a subject that will more than likely appear on your exam, and there are numerous ways the topic can be tested. Whether you are studying for the social work or MFT law and ethics exam, it is important to be familiar with the types of abuse as well as the nuances of reporting elder abuse and neglect.

How might reporting elder abuse be tested?

There are several ways elder abuse and neglect can appear on the exam.  Questions could test your knowledge regarding:

  1. The definition of an elder
  2. Signs of abuse and neglect
  3. Types of abuse and neglect
  4. When and where to report
  5. When to assess further vs. maintain confidentiality

This week's FREE practice question tests your knowledge of reporting elder abuse. Are you prepared for questions that might appear on your exam? Take a look at the question and let’s find out!

Elder Abuse and Neglect Practice Question:

A therapist meets with the wife of a 90-year-old man. The wife informs the therapist that her husband is spending several weeks in a skilled nursing facility’s rehabilitation unit following a massive heart attack. The client is concerned that her husband is not receiving adequate care because he appears weak and unclean. She shares that his bedpan overflowed a few days earlier and the nurse did not bother to clean up the mess until several hours had passed. The client would like to have him discharged and hire in-home care. How should the therapist proceed?

A. Honor the client’s self-determination and assist her in identifying in-home care.

B. Assess further for potential elder abuse to determine if a report is required.

C. Inform the client a report is mandated and provide verbal and written report to both law enforcement and the local ombudsman.

D. Consult with colleagues to determine if this information rises to the level of reasonable suspicion of abuse.

(scroll down for answer and rationale)

Reporting elder abuse


The correct answer is C.

Answer A is incorrect because it is not the priority in this case. This may be done eventually, but it does not address our legal mandate of reporting elder abuse and neglect.

Answer B is incorrect because the therapist needs “reasonable suspicion” when determining if a report is mandated. In this case, the client shared that her husband was unattended to for hours while sitting in his own urine. This rises to the level of neglect; we do not need to assess further.

Answer D is incorrect for a similar reason as B; we have enough information to warrant a report, so consultation is not required.

Answer C is the correct choice. The information shared by the client provides the therapist with reasonable suspicion that her husband is being neglected. Since the abuse has taken care in a long-term care facility, and does not constitute physical abuse, the therapist must report to law enforcement and the local ombudsman.

Exam Preparation

How did you do on this question? Does this question and rationale align with your knowledge of elder abuse and neglect reporting, or did you learn something new? If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to check in with a TDC coach. Our coaches are here to answer your questions and provide support as you get ready to PASS your law and ethics exam with confidence!

If you aren’t already signed up for one of our excellent exam preparation programs, check out our customer testimonials and sign up today! Our structured, straightforward approach will provide you with exactly what you need to successfully answer questions like these and many more-correctly and with confidence.


Commenter Name
October 29, 2018

I picked C for an answer. Yes my answer lined up. You would want to assist the wife, but that would be done after the abuse is reported.

Commenter Name
November 12, 2018

I failed my lmsw exam by nine points I scored an 89 and needed a 98 to pass. I ran out of time on the test and I believe that this led to this score as well. I will be requesting accomodations for the second time and using this program.

Commenter Name
November 13, 2018

I picked C as the client had already given sufficient information to show abuse and neglect.

Commenter Name
December 25, 2018

I was a little confused as I never read anything regarding contacting local authority and ombudsman, so I was thrown with this question! But because the client is in a long term rehabilitation facility, I guess this would make sense.

Commenter Name
January 6, 2019

I chose C because of for abuse in a SNF, you must call the ombudsman and that was my clue.

Commenter Name
March 4, 2019

I struggle between A & B however I chose "A" as I was thinking along assisting with what the client asked for. I never thought about "C"

Commenter Name
October 4, 2019

The question stem did not say he was in urine it said the bed pan was not cleaned, although the bed pan was left dirty and that is in appropriate I don't think this question gives us an indication that the client was left in his own urine which made me pick B to find out more of what's been happening. I feel like the rationale added more info then the question stem provided.

Commenter Name
October 8, 2019

Thank you for taking the time to review this question and offer feedback. In this vignette, it notes the bedpan overflowed--which would inherently be caused by the patient utilizing it while in bed. This would result in them laying in the overflow. Hope that helps!

Commenter Name
February 16, 2020

I chose answer "A". I thought that it was not necessary to report to APS due to the husband not being my actual client. I am currently studying to take my LCSW exam and took my law and ethics exam 2 years ago, so I've been feeling a little rusty on my law and ethic questions. I'm so glad I've checked out this blog!!

Commenter Name
February 21, 2020

Hi Marcy,

This is the law in CA, elder, child and dependent abuse reporting requires therapists to report regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator or victim. This could be different in other states, so for the national exam, it is good to review these sections of your program!

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