Abuse is "the negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical or emotional harm or pain by a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person." Abuse includes sexual assault, verbal, psychological and physical abuse. Obvious symptoms are scratches, cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones.
Exploitation is "the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the elderly or disabled person, using the resources of an elderly or disabled person for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the elderly or disabled person." This includes taking Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) checks, abusing a joint checking account, and taking property or other resources.
Neglect is "the failure to provide for one's self the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services." Neglect may result in starvation, dehydration, over- or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, or lack of heat, running water, electricity, medical care, or personal hygiene.
Older adults and people with disabilities may be isolated, ill, without a capable person to care for them, or without resources to meet basic needs. If APS determines a vulnerable adult is in a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the person is eligible for services.
A protective services client who has the capacity to consent has the right to:
- Receive voluntary protective services if the client requests or consents to those services.
- Participate in all decisions regarding their welfare, if able to do so.
- Choose the least restrictive alternative that meets their needs.
- Refuse medical treatment if it conflicts with religious beliefs and practices.