division of Aging and Adult Services

Adult Protective Services (APS) Definitions:

The following information gives definitions to assist in determining signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation. These factors should be considered when evaluating a facility and in how (and to whom) to report these cases.




  • Intentional infliction of physical harm
  • Injury caused by negligent acts of omission
  • Unreasonable confinement
  • Sexual abuse or sexual assault


A pattern of conduct without the person's informed consent resulting in deprivation of food, water, medicine, medical services, shelter, cooling, heating or other services necessary to maintain minimum physical or mental health.


The illegal or improper use of vulnerable adult of his/her resources for another's profit or advantage.

Vulnerable Adult

An individual who is 18 years or older who is unable to protect him/herself from abuse, neglect or exploitation by others because of a physical or mental impairment.

Emotional Abuse

A pattern of ridiculing or demeaning the vulnerable adult who is a patient or resident in any setting, in which health care, health related services or assistance with one or more of the activities of daily living is provided, making derogatory remarks to the vulnerable adult, verbally harassing the vulnerable adult or threatening to inflict physical or emotional harm on the vulnerable adult.

Signs of Abuse

Include, but are not limited to:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, sores, cuts or abrasions in places they would normally not be expected
  • Bruising and other injuries may be in different stages of healing
  • Bruising or other markings reflect the shape of the objects used to inflict the injuries, e.g., electrical cord or belt buckles, etc.
  • Bilateral bruising on upper arms from shaking
  • Fractures in different stages of healing
  • Cigar and cigarette burns
  • Submersion burns, e.g., sock like, glove like, doughnut like shaped on buttocks.  Can also be patterned like objects used, i.e., electric burner
  • Rope burns on arms/wrists, legs/ankles from improperly tying or bandaging the client

Signs of Neglect

Include, but are not limited to:

  • Bedsores (pressure sores)
  • Unkempt, dirty, body odor, feces on body
  • Clothing is insufficient or inappropriate for the weather
  • Fleas & lice on individual
  • Malnourished & dehydrated
  • Little or no food available
  • Soiled or urine soaked bedding

Signs of

Please note - this is not a legal definition

An adult’s inability due to physical or mental impairment diminished capacity, to perform essential self care tasks, including:

  • Obtaining essential food, clothing, shelter, and medical care
  • Obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health or general safety
  • Managing one’s own financial affairs

Signs of Financial

Include but are not limited to:

  • Accompanied by a stranger to the bank who encourages them to withdraw large amounts of cash
  • Accompanied by a family member or other person who seems to coerce them into making transactions
  • Client not allowed to speak for themselves or make decisions
  • Implausible explanation about what they are doing with their money
  • Concerned or confused about "missing" funds in their accounts
  • Neglected or receiving insufficient care given their financial status
  • Isolated from others, even family members
  • Unable to remember financial transactions or signing paperwork

Factors to consider in
evaluating a facility

  • Resident's lack of proper hygiene
  • Bedsore (pressure sores)
  • Inadequate staff
  • Unsafe environment: i.e.: tears in carpet, broken furniture
  • Urine or fecal odors
  • Restrained residents
  • Inadequate records
  • Poor supervision of staff
  • Unexplained injuries on residents
  • Alleged abuse
  • Not enough food
  • Inadequate clothing


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