You’re worried about an elderly loved one. Your dad hasn’t seemed himself lately, and you’re afraid he could be neglecting himself. If you know a senior or disabled adult who is experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation, adult protective services can help.
Adult protective service investigators protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. APS coordinates with mental health, public health, law enforcement, probate courts, aging networks, community groups, and the general public to protect those who cannot protect themselves. There are adult protective services agencies all over the nation, and there is likely one in your community.
Adult protective services can help your loved one if they are experiencing any of the following forms of abuse:
A condition in which an adult is unable to protect himself or herself from abuse, neglect, or exploitation because of a mental or physical impairment or advanced age.
Harm or threatened harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by another person. Abuse may be physical, sexual, or emotional.
Harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by the conduct of a person who assumes responsibility for a significant aspect of the adult’s health or welfare.
Harm to an adult’s health or welfare caused by the inability of the adult to respond to a harmful situation.
Misuse of an adult’s funds, property, or personal dignity by another person.
You think your dad is experiencing self-neglect, but you don’t know how to help him yourself. You decide to file a report with the adult protective services, but you wonder what will happen once the report is filed. These 5 steps take place with each filed report:
- A concerned citizen contacts his/her local APS office to report concerns about the welfare of a senior or adult with disabilities.
- The details provided in the report are screened by a trained professional to evaluate if it meets the requirements for the APS services in the state or local area.
- If the situation meets the criteria for abuse, neglect, or exploitation, an APS worker will initiate face-to-face contact with the adult requiring assistance.
- The APS officer accesses the adult’s safety, need for assistance, and determines what services, if any, would be beneficial to maintain his/her well-being and independence.
- The senior or adult with disabilities has the right to accept or decline any services suggested.
You’re afraid that your dad will be angry with you if he knows you filed a report on him. You wonder if there is any way to submit the report without your dad knowing who filed it. Although laws about confidentiality differ from state to state, some states accept anonymous reports of abuse. In these cases, the reporter is guaranteed the following:
- A right to confidentiality of his/her identity, with a disclosure of identity only with the reporter’s written consent of by the order of a court
- Protection from civil and criminal liability along with professional disciplinary action
- Protection from providing information, records, or services related to a report of suspected mistreatment
- Protection against retaliation by an employer
The personal safety of all individuals receiving APS services is their main concern. APS will work with each individual, including your dad, to keep him as safe as possible.