Adult Protective Services Program

How do I recognize abuse?

Elder and dependent care abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Broadly defined, abuse may be:

Physical Abuse

  • Assault, which includes slapping, hitting, beating or pushing. Signs could be bruises, pressure marks, abrasions, broken bones.
  • Includes the unreasonable use of physical constraints without written doctor’s orders, including confining a person against their will.
  • Deprivation of care necessary to avoid harm or suffering including prolonged or continual deprivation of food and water or necessary medications.
  • Use of psychotropic medication as punishment, or for a purpose or length of time not authorized by a physician.

Sexual Abuse

Any kind of sexual activity to which the victim either does not consent, or is incapable of consenting to.

Mental Or Emotional Suffering

Includes verbal abuse, threats, and intimidation.

Financial Abuse

  • Includes the misuse of a person’s assets, property or possessions, or manipulating the senior or dependent adult for the financial gain of another.
  • Unusual bank activity, including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts or ATM withdrawals.
  • Unpaid bills, eviction notices or discontinued utilities.
  • Implausible explanations given about an elder or dependent adult’s finances by a relative or caregiver.
  • Changes in spending patterns often accompanied by the appearance of a new “best friend".

Neglect Or Self-neglect

  • Ignoring a person’s physical or medical care needs, or denial of food or medication.
  • Includes self-neglect which compromises the individual’s safety.


Occurs when a caregiver deserts the elderly or dependent person.


Removal from the State/Community and restraint from returning of a non-consenting elder or dependent adult or an elder or dependent adult who lacks capacity to consent.


Preventing an elder or dependent adult from receiving his or her mail or telephone calls or from having contact with family, friends, or other concerned persons.